PJ’s Original Family Restaurant — also known as PJ’s — has been a Sunbury staple for so long that at one time it was one of the few places in the village that residents could get a sit-down meal.
Then ownership began changing hands, menus and business hours changed, and for some customers, it wasn’t the old PJ’s any longer.
That’s changing. Barry Bennett bought PJ’s in May, and brought in LeaNette Lillemoen as the restaurant manager. The two put their heads together and decided to make PJ’s more customer-friendly, open earlier for breakfast, serve breakfast until 2 p.m., and improve the quality of food – like the original PJ’s.
Bennett, who also owns Bennett Systems Inc., said that, after the restaurant’s ups and downs caused by serial multiple owners, he and Lillemoen are making a new start.
“We’ve had a lot of people start to come back,” Bennett said. “Many of the old PJ’s customers stayed away because of issues with previous owners. We’ve made a few changes, there are more changes coming, and customers are happy with what they’re seeing.”
Lillemoen said they’ve changed back to the original PJ’s thin-crust pizza recipe.
“I personally make the daily meals,” Lillemoen said. “We’re getting away from pre-packaged frozen food that you nuke and serve, and we’re getting away from cheap ingredients and moving to good quality ingredients. We’ve had a lot of comments about our food so far.”
Bennett said PJ’s hamburgers are once again made from fresh ground beef that has never been frozen, and all buns are Kaiser rolls and hoagie buns.
“We’ll also be adding new items to the menu,” Bennett said. “We still have the party room for group gatherings. We still have carryout pizza. In fact, we have carryout anything. We’ll take large orders from anything on the menu for people to pick up for catering their own parties. Just call a day or two ahead for large orders.”
Bennett is in the process of painting and redecorating the restaurant interior. He plans on installing more television sets, he has already installed free Wi-Fi.
“We’re trying to get some groups back in that stopped coming here because of dissatisfaction with previous owners and the food they served,” Bennett said. “We’re going to run a high bar along one wall, and get a wider variety of beers.”
PJ’s Original Family Restaurant is at 571 W. Cherry St. in Sunbury.
For a list of daily specials, restaurant hours, for carryout, or to reserve PJ’s Party Room, log on to pjsoriginal.com, or call 740-965-2000.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093