The former Howard Johnson’s restaurant, near the intersection of routes 291 and 301, will be reopening as Uncle Bunny’s Diner and Southern Barbecue, thanks to Ryan Smith. Smith is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, a Cordon Bleu cooking school in Pittsburgh. The restaurant also will bring 25 to 30 new jobs to the community, Smith said November 23. Smith has been in the restaurant business since he was 20 when he graduated from the culinary school.
While its signature offering will be Texas-style barbecue, the restaurant will serve a full menu, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. It will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Smith said that if business justifies, he would like to eventually go to a 24-hour operation. The restaurant will feature a family atmosphere, with a game arcade in the back, he said.
Smith and his partners are leasing the building from Kent Mill LLC of Baltimore, which acquired it in June 2005 after the Howard Johnson’s restaurant closed. Before that, the Amini family owned the property and operated the restaurant since 1981. The Howard Johnson’s originally opened in 1958. The partners expected to open in about three weeks; however, those plans may need to be modified in light of a burglary November 26. Tools, cameras including a security camera and a DVD recorder and musical equipment had been taken.