Restauranteur sets up shop close to home

FOLLANSBEE – After owning and operating a restaurant in Wheeling for several years, John Kuzma saw the opportunity to do business closer to home and seized it.

A retired employee with 30 years of service with Weirton Steel, Kuzma became interested in running a restaurant long before that and before he opened Heights Family Restaurant at 150 Rockdale Road on Hooverson Heights.

Kuzma took a break from preparing a variety of wings, sandwiches and appetizers to talk about his new business, which opened last year.

He said he was working part time as a dishwasher at Bethany College when a chef there suggested he pursue his interest in food preparation. The 1974 Brooke High School graduate followed that advice and earned a degree in culinary management from West Virginia Northern Community College.

Kuzma owned and operated the Bella Via Restaurant in Wheeling for six years before learning of the availability of the Rockdale Road location. Home to two other eateries over the years, it was both familiar to Follansbee area residents and close to his home.

It’s natural that Kuzma would know many of his customers from Hooverson Heights, where he grew up and still resides.

Aiding Kuzma with the new business is his wife of 37 years, Patricia, who’s also a Brooke County native and had worked with him in Wheeling; and Allie Fluharty, who he calls his “right-hand woman;” and waitresses Renee Hutchison and Makayla Moore.

Fluharty helps the Kuzmas to manage the restaurant as well as maintaining its Facebook page, which helps them to promote its menu, including wings in more than a dozen flavors. They include hot, mild, barbecue, honey barbecue, roasted garlic butter, lemon pepper, parmesan, garlic parmesan, sweet and tangy, wet or dry ranch, garlic, honey dijon and sweet chili.

The restaurant also offers many sandwiches, including burgers, philly cheese steak, meatball, fried or grilled chicken, grilled reuben and a jumbo hot dog, as well as grilled chicken or steak salads and a variety of appetizers.

For those with a dinner-size appetite, there’s New York strip steak, fried shrimp, chicken or shrimp alfredo, spaghetti, rigatoni, cheese ravioli, creamed chicken with mashed potatoes, honey dipped chicken and pork chops.

Breakfast is served throughout the day at the restaurant, which is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

And The Heights’ breakfast entrees include steak and eggs, belgian waffles, french toast, pancakes, assorted omelets, sausage burrito and its Big Breakfast, which includes two eggs, home fries, three pancakes, two slices of toast, three slices of bacon and one sausage patty or two sausage links.

Kuzma has strived to make the restaurant a pleasant place to gather, with a large screen television at the counter for those who want to catch a game or show and quiet seating areas where guests may converse.

Noting the restaurant is just minutes from state Route 2 in Follansbee, he encouraged area residents to stop in for a meal or order to go by calling (304) 527-4013.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)