An iconic roadside eatery is reopening after staying shuttered for additional than two yrs for the duration of the pandemic.

The Cadet Cafe, recognised for its hearty down-home diner fare and cowboy mascot “Sam” — a 30-foot-tall statue observed keeping a big hamburger together Route 422 around Kittanning — will welcome diners currently.

Sam, featured in the guide “Roadside Giants,” was purchased in Chicago for $3,200.

Outgoing proprietors George Morda, 91, and his spouse Mimi, 73, of Manor Township, ran the common diner since 1952.

At first identified as The Owl’s Nest, the cafe commenced out as a tiny generate-in restaurant — the very first of its form in the space.

Serving basic American-model cuisine, the vibe is nostalgic and leaves a single reminiscent of the times of vehicle hops and muscle mass vehicles.

The roadside staple has welcomed patrons for decades. The Mordas have resolved to retire and gave their blessing to a new household — the Robeys.

Incoming proprietor Melanie Robey, 49, previously of Glenshaw, explained a random push-by together Route 422 led to what she phone calls “divine intervention” for her new company undertaking.

“I experienced lost my occupation during covid and I was frustrated, and me and my little ones desired to shift to the country,” Robey explained. “I saw Sam and got emotional. I explained to my relatives this is our restaurant.”

Robey recalled that, at the time, her small children chuckled and did not acquire her very seriously.

Robey explained she was on the lookout to invest in a meals truck and begin a new job for herself and wanted a “complete change.”

So, The Cadet became her family’s new adventure.

The relatives relocated from Glenshaw to East Franklin.

Right after observing Sam on her road vacation, Robey said she appeared up Morda’s contact information and facts on the Cadet’s web site and questioned him if she could have a task at The Cadet.

And the relaxation type of just fell into position, Robey claimed.

“I’m overcome. Our souls referred to as each other and he was looking for an individual to open up his newborn again up,” Robey claimed. “We cleaned the whole cafe but mainly stored every little thing the very same — the prospects want it that way.”

Robey is leasing to own and reported she expects to formally just take in excess of possession inside a 12 months.

“It means the earth to us. I’m heading to cry. We’re satisfied due to the fact it’s heading to a very good family members and they’re challenging personnel,” explained Mimi Morda of her impending retirement.

The Mordas are serving to the Robeys settle in to their new job as restaurateurs.

“I’m so glad to get rid of it,” joked George. “I’m carried out. I’m old adequate that I simply cannot do it anymore and I’m glad anyone else is taking more than. I needed to get a superior family members and they’re a great spouse and children.”

Robey mentioned she’s psyched to carry back again the signature Cadet dish, The Poorboy Sandwich, piled high with two quarter-pound burgers, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo.

“It’s the exact menu other than we raised the selling prices a small. We wanted it to keep the same diner,” Robey claimed.

Another will have to-keep item the Robey’s still left untouched is a sign hung inside of the major eating space by George, bearing the Cadet’s motto: “Enter as strangers / Go away as pals.”

“George is a section of this cafe, that is keeping,” Robey said.

Robey mentioned many of her kids and kinfolk are associated in the new enterprise.

Longtime Cadet worker Laura Dinger, 41, started performing at The Cadet when she was 16 decades old.

She commenced washing dishes, moved up to waitress and now serves as aconsultant for the Robeys.

Dinger, of Kittanning Township, returns right now working both of those the entrance and back again of the household in what ever capability is most needed.

“It’s just like home again,” Dinger reported. “It’s sentimental.”

George Morda, at first from Ford Town, served in the Army for far more than a decade and labored as a crane operator at PPG.

Morda was a person of 7 kids and grew up on a farm.

“I give up PPG — told them I was gonna go open up my cafe,” Morda recalled.

Morda stated he’s looking ahead to retirement and, as he reflected again on 70 years of Cadet possession, explained he under no circumstances doubted his eatery would survive.

“Absolutely. I haven’t failed at nearly anything still,” mentioned Morda.

The Cadet is open up every day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m and is located at 13514 Route 422 just outside Kittanning.

Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Evaluate employees writer. You can make contact with Joyce at 724-226-7725 , [email protected] or through Twitter .