BROOKVILLE — Plyler’s Buffet and Family Restaurant is open once more as of today (Wednesday) under the new ownership of Mike and Abby Kaltenbach.
He majored in hotel management at Indiana University of Pennsylvania but actually began in the restaurant business before college, working at Wolf’s Den and at the Holiday Inn in Clarion. After they graduated from college, the Kaltenbachs moved to Florida and spent 11 years working in the restaurant businesses there but Mike Kaltenbach says, “I always wanted my own restaurant” so when the opportunity arose to purchase Plyler’s they returned to the area with their two children.
Their vision is to provide quality, homemade food for their customers. While he may tweak the menu most customers are familiar with or be a little creative with specials, customers will still be able to find their favorites such as the popular turkey dinner with fresh turkey, real mashed potatoes and homemade gravy. They even plan to bring back a favorite roll that once had customers asking for more.
“There’s a lot here between the bakery and the banquet hall and the buffet, we weren’t sure if we were going to keep it the same or change it. But after I got the chance to train here for a little bit and I got a chance to see how much room there is in that bakery to grow and to make it really a nice bakery, we wanted to make it similar to what it was,” Mike Kaltenbach said, adding that he’d also like to a little catering as well. “It’s a nice big building and there’s lots of opportunities.”
He also wants to let the bakery expand as much as it can going forward. “They used to have a roll that everyone loved that they changed. We’re going to bring that back. And bake our own rolls for our sandwiches and maybe some more cakes for the display. The baker here, we’re really lucky. I think she’s really going to do well.”
“Hopefully we can improve on quality and things like that,” Abby Kaltenbach said. Husband Mike agrees, saying they “want to make sure it’s quality every day” in reference not to just the dinners but the buffet selections as well.
They are keeping a themed-buffet each night, such as barbecue night and land and sea night and they want to do a family night, where the buffet will offer children-friendly foods.
“We want the community to know what day is what and to expect those items on those days. If we say we’re doing ham balls on Wednesdays, we better have ham balls on Wednesdays. There are things that people come here for that they like so we want to make sure that we have them,” he said, adding that they mainly want to “really just simplify and focus on the quality.”
The Kaltenbachs have retained most of the original staff and are starting with 30 employees, “basically almost a full staff,” Abby Kaltenbach said. “Everybody have a really vital role here. For the most part, they were all really amazing and they’ve trained us and helped us and taught us a lot. We feel like we really lucked out with a lot of the staff members.”
“We were pleasantly surprised to see...especially the server side of things. They were really good with the customers. I was really impressed with that,” Mike Kaltenbach said, adding that each of the employees are needed and have their own role at the restaurant.
He said they still plan on hiring as soon as they can as there are still a few spots to fill. “We’re always looking for a good fit, someone whose interested in culinary or creative.” He says he has already reached out to IUP’s Culinary School in Punxsutawney, which has placed an ad on its alumni page. Noting that “it’s not for everybody,” he said, “If I get one or two interested parties I’m sure I could find a spot for them.” He says he’ll also probably reach out to IUP’s main campus in Indiana, Pa., where he graduated just to see if “somebody might be interested in coming up after graduation or in the summer or something.”
For now, they are focused on providing quality food. “I don’t want to purchase a lot of pre-made things. Our buying is just basic, whole foods – meats, chicken, vegetables – and doing it (cooking) the old fashioned way, making our own sauces,” he says.