Editor's note: This is the third in a series
of stories about businesses that will be inducted into the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame Oct. 15 at the Blair County Convention Center.
DUNCANSVILLE - Willard "Bill" Campbell hadn't really planned on opening his own chain of restaurants.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Nicole Wilt keeps the salad bar fresh at Hoss’s Steak and Sea House, Valley View Boulevard and Seventh Street, Altoona. Hoss’s is one of five businesses that will be inducted into the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame on Oct. 15 at the Blair County Convention Center.
Campbell got into the restaurant business in 1979 when he and some
partners opened a Western Sizzlin Steak House franchise at the Meadows Intersection.
In 1983, he planned to open a second Western Sizzlin in DuBois, but after the franchise, which had been verbally promised to him, was sold to someone else he decided to move in a different
"That was the day Hoss's was born," said Billie Jo Walls, Campbell's daughter and spokeswoman for Hoss's Steak and Sea House.
Hoss's will be one of five businesses inducted into the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame Oct.15 at the Blair County Convention Center.
"We were humbled," Campbell said. "It is always an honor to be chosen for any award by the chamber."
The first local Hoss's opened at Valley View Boulevard and Seventh Street on March 5, 1985. Shortly after, the Western Sizzlin in Duncansville became a Hoss's, Walls said.
Today there are 36 locations - 35 in Pennsylvania and one in Martinsburg, W.Va.
"We try to keep our locations within a four-hour radius of our corporate office in Duncansville," Campbell said.
Alcohol is not served at Hoss's Steak and Sea House.
"When we first opened the concept, there were few places you could take your family out for a nice meal where there was no alcohol served," Campbell said. "We wanted this to be a great family restaurant to fill that void. Now we are known for our great steak and seafood entrees and our 100-plus item salad bars."
The restaurant industry is constantly changing, and for restaurants to stay in business, Campbell said they must change with the times. He said Hoss's always seeks new ideas and offers new promotions to not only keep the loyal customers happy but attract new ones.
Giving back to the community has always been important to Hoss's.
"We have developed a community night program that enables nonprofit groups to raise money by organizing their group to come in and eat," Walls said. "We then give them 20 percent of the proceeds. To date, we have given more than $3,781,000 back to our communities."
Hoss's also is highly involved with numerous organizations including Future Farmers of America, 4-H, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the American Cancer Society, Walls said.
Campbell said Hoss's has 2,213 employees.
"Not only is their work ethic outstanding, their community spirit is even better," said Hall of Fame Committee Chairwoman Lisa Michelone of Reliance Bank. "When they participate in a community event, they do it with such enthusiasm and hard work; they make sure everyone involved is working together for a successful outcome."
Walls said the company plans to continue expansion as long as feasible.
"We are currently in the process of getting ready to open our second location of Marzoni's Brick Oven and Brewing Company, which is a division of Hoss's, and hope to keep expanding this concept as well," she said.
The second Marzoni's is expected to open in the next few months in the former Burgi's Roundhouse Bar & Grille, 1830 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd., Altoona.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.