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DuBois Dutch Family Restaurant Celebrates 50 Years


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Dutch Pantry Family Restaurant celebrates

Dutch Pantry Family Restaurant celebrates 50 years of serving community


DuBOIS — Dutch Pantry Family Restaurant in DuBois is looking back on 50 years of the community support, homemade comfort food and the family atmosphere it has become known for.

The restaurant on Rich Highway celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021, said owner Tom Larson, who has worked for Dutch Pantry restaurants since 1981, beginning in high school when he started as a cook then eventually became a manager. Larson took over the DuBois location on Rich Highway in 1987.

His daughter, Melani Conklin, who currently acts as the restaurant manager, has worked there on and off over the years, Larson Said.

The original Dutch Pantry was opened by an Amish mother and son in 1947. Back in the day, all of the restaurants were built near gas stations.

The DuBois location opened Aug. 31, 1971, he said.

It was always important to him to keep the staples and traditions of Dutch Pantry the same, including treating people like family and serving homemade comfort food like meat and potatoes, ham steaks and liver and onions, he said.

Some employees have been with the restaurant for several years, said Larson, and he recalls getting to watch them grow up. Now, he is even hiring some of the kids of parents who formerly worked for him.

Larson never saw himself owning a restaurant, he said, but it has just always felt like home.

“Dutch Pantry has always taken care of me,” said Larson. “So, when the opportunity came, I took it.”

Although Dutch Pantry does attract travelers, as it is right off of Interstate 80, it’s the locals and regulars who have kept the restaurant alive over the years, Larson said.

“Our regulars are wonderful people who you get to know,” he said, noting that some will even pitch in and help at times.

Dutch Pantry staff also often know their regulars by name, and treat them accordingly, said Larson.

“People really like when you remember their name, or what meal they order,” he said.

Besides the smell of hot coffee and comfort food, Dutch Pantry is also full of memories, including the games of Scrabble and peg games on the tables and the memorabilia on the walls and shelves, such as collectable cans, old pictures, bottles and more. Customers will also bring in items for the restaurant to display, such as one of the very first Dutch Pantry ms ever printed on display in the front glass case.

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Part of the restaurant – Larson’s favorite part – is outdoorsy themed, with several wild game mounds like deer and turkey on the walls.

The venues are also known for their gift shops, said Larson, featuring unique and country décor items, candles, locally-made soaps and homemade jellies and jams, among others.

“The gift shops were just always a part of Dutch Pantry,” he said.

Like others in the restaurant industry, the COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult time for Dutch Pantry as well, as they have also been struggling to find workers, Larson said.

“I can’t ask for a better staff than I have – they always go above and beyond,” he said, noting that working with his daughter has been a blessing.

The local support from DuBois and surrounding areas, pre- and post-COVID, is what kept Dutch Pantry open during this time, Larson added.

Not much about Dutch Pantry has changed over the years, as part of its charm is its traditional and nostalgic family atmosphere. It still has the same open antique/rustic layout, old-fashioned circular counter and the red, white and blue exterior color scheme.

The menu has developed and changed according to the industry and what customers want, said Larson.

Dutch Pantry is also known for its Breakfast with Santa event, which has been held for 30-plus years every December.

For its 40th anniversary, Dutch Pantry held a month-long celebration with specials and lower prices, said Larson. For the 50th, there were some giveaways and month-long games.

Larson recalls how much the DuBois area itself has changed over the past few decades. But, one thing has remained the same –the generous local support from Dutch Pantry customers.

“The community has always supported us,” he said. “We have formed a lot of friendships over the years.”

Visit Dutch Pantry Family Restaurant – DuBois on Facebook.

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My family loves Dutch Pantry. We never a bad meal there. Everything is delicious. We have a son with special needs.  The staff are wonderful with him. And yes they do treat you like family. 

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Worked in the kichen as cook just after they open, One day a customer wanted a medium done steak,there was dark  grill marks.He complained it was burned, cooked him another steak returned it. The manager came out and told him if he did not like the way it was cooked he could go down to the Holiday Inn and eat.

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