Article By M.T. Decker
Photos By: Josh Triggs
The family run restaurant specializes in home cooking and when you’re here, you dine with family.
While Justin Gouff runs the day to day business, his mother and father Harry and Carrie Gouff, help keep things running smoothly. All three work together to provide consistent coverage.
“You can always find at least one of us here during business hours,” Justin explains. Together they make sure the family is always represented; that sense of family also extends to the staff of Keystone Family Restaurant.
Many of the people working for Justin and his family have been with the restaurant since it started in 2013. Many of them originally worked with Justin when he worked at the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant that had occupied the same site for years before.
When the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant closed down its Waynesboro Restaurant in April of 2013, it was a difficult decision for the owner to have to make. But, with two restaurants and an event center to operate, it was time for him to consolidate. One of the things that helped make the decision was the fact that they had lined up someone who wanted to lease the restaurant from them and keep most of the staff on.
Within a few days of closing down a new restaurant, 88 Spices had opened up in its space. While they served some of the same dishes that had made Mountain Gate an area staple, they also added some international dishes. The problem was, the regular customers didn’t want international—they wanted down-home comfort food. They wanted their family back. 88 Spices closed down almost two months later.
Justin knew that was the reality of running a restaurant and it was something the Gouff family had to think about when they decided to take over the property and open their own restaurant.
Justin knew the area and knew the people. Having worked at Mountain Gate he also knew what the people wanted in a family restaurant. So together, they began working towards opening the Keystone Family Restaurant, with one simple plan: offer families comfort food at a reasonable price.
“For the longest time the sign just said ‘Coming Soon,'” Justin explained as he recounted the restaurant’s opening almost 4 years ago. “We opened in December, and did very little advertising.”
It seems that the ‘Coming Soon’ sign was all they needed because the day they opened, they were swamped. The Gouff’s had hit on exactly what people in the area wanted.
“A lot of the Mountain Gate regulars came back,” Justin told me. Those regulars were so pleased with what the Gouff family had done, they kept coming back.
“We have people who come here once or twice a week and we have people who eat here twice a day,” Justin explains, with pride.
And there is a reason people keep coming back. The Keystone Family Restaurant offers good food and good service, at reasonable prices. You can see the care and hospitality that is offered in the way they greet their customers and the way the customers are at ease around them.
It truly is all about family. In addition to the buffet, Keystone specializes in catering. You can host your event in their banquet room that holds up to 130 people, or they can bring the food to you.
Local organizations such as the Lions and Lioness clubs, have their meetings at the restaurant. The Keystone has played host to everything from business lunches to wedding receptions.
“Our catering is self sufficient,” Geoff adds proudly.
This allows them to cater anything from picnics to weddings, without having to be dependent upon the resources available.
“We’ve catered events at Wild Goose Farm in Lewisburg, PA; Poorhouse Farm Park in Martinsburg, WV, and the Gettysburg Inn, in Gettysburg, PA.”
Keystone Family Restaurant is open every day, with the exception of Christmas Day. While 90% of their customers prefer the buffet, Keystone also offers a menu for fresh off the grill foods for those interested in a specific dish. In addition to the regular meals, Keystone offers special dinners on holidays and special occasions. They have prepared special feasts for Thanksgiving and Easter.
One of the things I noticed was the sense of family not only among the staff but the customers as well. Regular customers are greeted like old friends and they seem quite at home. A sign over the counter sums it all up: “Dinner is better when we eat together.”
I asked Justin what was good and while the obvious answer is “Everything.” He told me that there are two dishes people always seem to not get enough of their Harvard Beets and their fried chicken. He was right , they were both delicious. Like any buffet you have your hot food and your cold food; but unlike many buffet restaurants, they have a wide variety, in a small line.
Because they are always checking the food, the pans are never empty and food doesn’t simply sit under a warmer until it has been eaten. The food is always fresh.
Their Harvard beets were tender and tasty and their chicken was moist and delicious. I also tried the stewed tomatoes and I have to say…I love stewed tomatoes! At least, I love Keystone’s stewed tomatoes.
There was a wonderful assortment of foods available—ribs, meatloaf and baked macaroni and cheese. It was all very good, and I went back for seconds.
For those not interested in the full buffet, Keystone offers a soup and salad option. The greens were fresh and crisp and they offer two different soups.
And then there were the desserts. They seemed to have every pie imaginable, including coconut cream, Boston cream, pecan, chocolate chip pecan and even shoofly pie.
It was all very good and very plentiful. If you are interested in seafood, the next Seafood Extravaganza is September 9th. Keystone will be offering a plentiful feast of steamed crab legs, steamed shrimp, fried oysters and more.
Keystone Family Restaurant is a family run restaurant where everyone is treated like family. The food is good, the service excellent and the prices reasonable. If you’re looking for some down-home cooking, look no further than the Keystone Family Restaurant. For more information, you can visit them online at: KeystoneFamilyRestaurants.com or on facebook.