Listen To This Post
It started with two brothers, and two brothers will continue the family-owned and operated legacy at 5470 Route 145 in Laurys Station. Brothers Richard and Johnny Schafer have taken over landmark Lehigh County restaurant The Hi-Way Family Restaurant and will reopen it as Laurys Station American Grill in January.
“We’re very grateful to continue that restaurant in Laurys Station. We feel it’s a landmark in the community, and we hope to serve that community well and give them a great meal at a fair price,” Richard Schafter told What Now Philadelphia.
Richard Schafter is an electrical engineer with a background in architecture and works for Bala Consulting Engineers, while his brother Johnny Schafter is an entrepreneur that has owned several businesses with his wife, Beatrice. The couple recently helped their son Jason launch The Mason Jar Family Diner in Andreas. The Schafers purchased The Hi-Way Family Restaurant property from Nick and Mike Gentis, who operated in the location for over 40 years. The Gentis’ announced the closing of Hi-Way Family Restaurant and change in ownership on their Facebook page in July.
While the Schafers hope to take over Hi-Way’s legacy, it won’t be the same diner you remember. Laurys Station American Grill will undergo a drastic transformation before it opens. The restaurant’s kitchen will be completely gutted and include new LED lighting, plumbing, and tile flooring. The majority of the appliances are brand new, while a few pieces of equipment will be professionally cleaned, restored, and reinstalled in the restaurant.
“We’ve been working with the Township, whose been absolutely fantastic with making sure everything is done right and safely,” said Richard Schafer. “We’re really focused on doing everything right and making sure it’s a nice clean environment for our customers. The kitchen is going to be a beautiful kitchen and managed for ease of cleanliness.”
The dining room layout will remain the same but will get a brand new coat of paint, stainless steel accents, ceiling tiles, lighting, tables, and dinnerware. The vintage booths will remain and be restored and cleaned. Laurys Station American Grill will also have a take-out window making it easy for customers to order through their app and pick it up at the window. One thing that will remain is the restaurant’s iconic exterior design. The menu for Laurys Station American Grill is still being tweaked but will serve modern American dishes, including steaks and hamburgers, as well as traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dishes like Scrapple and Halupiki. The restaurant has also hired a dessert specialist to make delicious homemade confections. Gift cards for Hi-Way Family Restaurant that weren’t redeemed before it closed will be honored at Laurys Station American Grill for up to six months after they open their doors.
It’s a day that the Schafers are very much looking forward to, as getting to this point has been no easy task. The first location they were eyeing ended up burning down, forcing them to start location hunting from scratch. Richard Schafer said he also had trouble getting financing from larger banks and insurance companies who were hesitant to fund a local restaurant during the pandemic. Thankfully, Schaefer said his family was able to get the support he needed from local banks and insurance companies like Mauch Chunk Trust Company in Jim Thorpe and Henry H. Shoemaker Insurance Company in Coplay.
“They looked at our business plan, and they invested in the community, and we were grateful for that,” said Richard Schaefer.
Once they did secure their funding, they ran into supply chain issues to get it up and going. The Schaefers hoped to open their restaurant in September but have had to hold out while waiting for critical pieces of equipment to arrive.
“It was no small undertaking to get this accomplished because of COVID,” said Richard Schaefer. “We’re very excited to open this business.”