Hallamshire Family Restaurant: A cozy diner
All good things come in time, according to Christopher and Christine Dalaperas.
When the couple decided to purchase the vacant ice cream shop at 480 W. Market St. in Hellam Township, they knew they wanted to do whatever they could to make it a restaurant that kept customers coming back.
It took a year to completely remodel and expand the restaurant — leaving nothing but a little bit of flooring left from the previous business, Christopher Dalaperas said.
The interior, which sits about 100 people, greets guests with its bright yellow and calming gray paint. The booths and counter bar seats are a vibrant blue vinyl that stands out against the backdrop of the restaurant.
When guests enter, they are greeted by a hostess, usually Christine Dalaperas, on their right. Visitors then have the option to sit in the main dining room or turn to the left and sit in the "coffee shop" area, where smaller booths line the wall and a counter features several bar stool seats.
Christine Dalaperas spent a lot of time researching the right décor to make people feel cozy and comfortable inside, she said.
"We want it to feel like home," she said. "It's a quiet, relaxing place to stop for a meal."
The menu has a variety of options. A full breakfast menu is available until 11 a.m., when a limited amount of breakfast items are then available the rest of the day. The restaurant is only open until 3 p.m. during the week and 4 p.m. on Sundays, but a host of lunch items and daily specials are served.
The Dalaperas wanted to ensure they'd get enough business to warrant a dinner service, which they hope to add later this year, Christine Dalaperas said.
The comfort-food themed menu features a variety of homemade dishes, many noted as specials each day, including homemade chicken pot pie, pork and sauerkraut, chicken and waffles, hog maw and baked haddock with macaroni and cheese.
I visited one Friday afternoon with my husband and we were quickly seated in the cozy, coffee shop section of the restaurant. I commented to my lunch date how nice it would be to bring a laptop to use the restaurant's free Wi-Fi while I work and munch on a pastry.
I ordered the restaurant's four piece broasted chicken special with a side of macaroni and cheese and French fries ($8.49). My husband ordered the Greek lamb gyro with a side of French fries ($6.99). We also ordered a bowl of the southern style chili ($3.99).
The chili was by far my favorite part of the meal. It was warm and comforting, with just the right amount of heat and sweet. It also was topped with a generous portion of shredded cheddar cheese.
We capped off our meal with a shared slice of the triple layer chocolate cake ($3.79), which we quickly devoured when we brought it home in a to go box.
As customers make their way to the cash register at the hostess station, they might notice a photo displayed on the wall. March's frame showed Hallam Mayor Paul McCleary, who was the very first Hallamshire Family Restaurant customer on March 9.
"He was waiting outside the door at 5:30 a.m.," Christine Dalaperas said.
The couple decided before opening they would award their first customer to be the "person of the month." This title comes with a $25 gift certificate and recognition in the frame behind the register. Each month will feature a different person, which customers can nominate in a drop box by the register.
For April, the nominated person must be a teacher. May will feature a mother, June a father and July and police officer.
"It's important to us that we really become part of this community," Christine Dalaperas said. "We want to be that hub in the community where people come to meet each other, celebrate their milestones and just be together."
Hallamshire Family Restaurant
Location: 480 W. Market St., Hellam Township
Cuisine: American comfort food
Rebecca's pick: Bowl of southern-style chili ($3.99) and four-piece broiled chicken with two sides ($8.49).
Hours: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays
Price range: $2.19, cup of soup, to $13.99, 12 oz. Delmonico steak with two vegetables
Accepts: Cash and credit
Kid's menu: Yes
Details: Call 717-855-2084 or search Hallamshire Family Restaurant on Facebook