John Lochel may have sold his family-owned restaurant of 10 years, but he’s figured out a way to stay involved in the eatery’s future.
“I’m the landlord,” Lochel told Patch during an interview Monday, a few hours prior to the official transfer of to new owners, Tony Evangelista, 37, of Horsham and his 31-year-old brother, Paul Evangelista, of Abington. The Evangelistas will officially open today as the restaurant’s new owners.
“He’s rooting for me to do well because I pay him every month,” Tony Evangelista quipped.
Neither party would release specifics of the lease. But, both sides shared that many things - including the restaurant’s name – will remain unchanged. With the exception of Lochel’s cooks, who will be replaced by the new owners, all of the eatery’s employees will remain, the Evangelistas said.
Paul Evangelista said he hopes to modernize the décor in the next eight months.
“We have a whole bunch of ideas that we want to do,” he said without offering specifics.
At least for the time being, the fare and hours of operation will remain unchanged, they said.
The New York natives, who have worked as chefs of Roman Delight, the Anchor Inn in Wrightstown, and, most recently, Nonna Rosa in West Norriton, said they hope to “upgrade the lunch” and this summer expand the restaurant’s hours to serve dinner three nights a week.
“American continental with Italian flair,” is how Tony Evangelista described the type of dinner offerings planned.
Despite their Italian roots and the desire to make homemade pasta and meatballs, Tony Evangelista stopped short of calling the food Italian. Also, pizza is out, he said.
“If we did that we did that, we’d put ’em all out of business,” he said of the handful of pizza shops already open in Hatboro.
As for new customers, as well as regulars who may be unsure of what to expect following the transition, Tony Evangelista said, “Once they taste my cooking I own them."
Breakfast specialties, including French toast made from bread baked at neighboring , will continue on as menu favorites, the brothers said. John Lochel pointed out that the bakery, which he bought about 25 years ago, would continue to be run by his son and daughter-in-law as it has for the last seven years.
Lochel, who said he has “semi-retired,” is pondering a move to the Poconos, where he’s looking to start “something with doughnuts.”
Of course, the hope is that the 80-seat restaurant in Hatboro which bears his name will continue to prosper in the way of 150 pounds of potatoes being peeled and fried for Sunday breakfasts - the busiest breakfast day of the week.
As the former owners sat with the new Lochel’s Family Restaurant owners on Monday morning, a special pin used for the potato peeler was passed to the Evangelista brothers much in the way that a key is passed to a new owner.