But Eat'n Park Hospitality Group could go a long way in changing that perception when it opens a casual dining restaurant in the current home of Curtain Call, the Pittsburgh Symphony's retail store across from Heinz Hall at Sixth and Penn avenues.
Once you are aware that Eat'n Park Hospitality Group is involved in several ventures other than its Eat'n Park restaurants, the connection isn't as strained as it might at first appear. The company has diversified significantly into enterprises that complement its core business, and most of those have come while James Broadhurst has been at the helm.
Broadhurst, who joined Eat'n Park in 1973 and became its president in 1975, has stewarded changes like the 1999 acquisition of CURA Hospitality Inc., a contract food service provider to nursing homes and senior living communities.
The company launched Parkhurst Dining Services in 1996, a division that services colleges and universities and specialty markets such as museums, and provides catering and fine dining services. The Park Classic Diner concept, a nostalgic diner-style restaurant, is the most recent addition to the group.
Broadhurst's involvement in arts organizations, including the Pittsburgh Ballet, makes the connection between Eat'n Park and the symphony even more plausible. Broadhurst and his wife, Suzy, have been generous contributors to a variety of nonprofits, including a $100,000 scholarship endowment at Penn State McKeesport last year.
He serves as chairman of the board of the Pittsburgh Foundation and is a member of the boards of the Allegheny Conference and Penn State University.
Founded in 1949 by Larry Hatch, a former Isaly Co. executive, and a group of investors, the chain's first location was a 13-seat restaurant in South Hills that offered mostly carhop service. The company has grown into a 79-unit group of restaurants and foodservice operations with locations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
Last year, Consumer Reports rated Eat'n Park a "Quick Pick" in the family restaurant category, cited by its readers as especially kid-friendly.
Must be those Smiley Cookies. How to reach: Eat'n Park, www.eatnpark.com