By Alicia Dziak

If you’re one of the many die hard Allegany State Park visitors, this winter will bring you a pleasant surprise—the Park Restaurant, located on the second floor of the Red House Administration Building, will be open through the snowy months.

“With coming off a very good season along the newly built outdoor patio, I decided to try and continue with the restaurant through the winter season,” said John Marino or JCon Parks, who owns and operates all retail space within  the park.  “I have a great staff and they were eager to try to keep it successful and going.”

Marino noted that the last time the restaurant remained open past mid-November on any given year was 15-20 years ago.  “We also have developed a large local base of customers from the Salamanca, Bradford and Randolph area, so we wanted to try not to disappoint them as we truly appreciate them patronizing our restaurant,” he explained.

With a sizeable menu offering everything from soups to sandwiches to hearty entrees, the restaurant has something for everyone. “Our Friday fish fry and Sunday breakfast buffet are our most popular,” Marino said.

He added that, “We’re also beginning to focus on ‘take out food’ for the cottages, cabins and camp sites throughout the park.  We just developed a specific take out menu and for right now, it’s pick up only.  That could change to a possible delivery drop off to your cabin if business warrants it.”

If you’ve never been to the Park Restaurant, what better time to check it out than now, in the off-peak season?

Hours are Friday 12-8 p.m., Saturday 11a.m. -8 p.m. and Sunday from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

“I think people enjoy the drive into the park, the beautiful setting of the Administration Building and our dining room.  There is a lot of history all around,” Marino said. “We try to give the dining room a homey feel with our decorations and menu selections.  And I think our gift shop adds to their visit as well.  I sometimes tell people we have a ‘Little Cracker Barrel’ as they can eat and shop to make their visit complete along with visiting the beautiful Administration Building and ASP.”

The first floor gift shop also remains open during the winter months, and is a great place to do your holiday shopping. A storewide sale is going on now through much of the winter, with most items in the shop 20 percent off.

“We carry a lot of unique items that you won’t find in the large box stores,” Marino said. “The store remains open year round and we use the winter months as well to complete our next season ordering and getting all our locations in the park ready for our busy season in the spring.”

Hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.