KINGSTON TWP. — Allan Roberts Jr. found an equal mixture of business management and culinary arts in the family’s business, The Ranch Wagon.
For nearly 60 years the Ranch Wagon on Route 309 in Shavertown served up hot dogs, barbecues, burgers and more.
Roberts father, Allan Sr., established the business in 1955. Sixty-one years later the eatery is a landmark restaurant attracting patrons from across the Wyoming Valley.
Where did you go to college?
Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre.
What was your major?
What was your first job out of college?
In my senior year of college, my father and I bought the former Castle Inn in Dallas. I trained and worked there until I graduated.
Even though I majored in business, cooking always was my passion. It seemed like a good marriage to use my skills to be a chef, manager and business co-owner.
That was a big responsibility for a 21-year-old, but I’ve always had a lot of responsibility.
After several years, we sold the Castle Inn. When my father passed away, I took over the operation of the Ranch Wagon.
What has been the best advice you received in business?
To be a hands-on business owner and manager. In other words, be willing to do the work you ask your employees to do and set a good example.
If your business had a limitless budget, what would be three things you would do differently?
I would remodel and expand the size of our building to accommodate indoor seating and offer a delivery service. Possible franchising opportunities would not be out of the question.
What are our area’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths: Our Back Mountain friends and neighbors are loyal customers. Local businesses and industries do support our business and each other. It’s a great community to do business. Wyoming Valley patrons have made our eatery a destination restaurant. Area patrons understand how important it is to support local businesses.
Weaknesses: Over the years we have seen a change in work ethic, or should I say, a desire to work. There are certainly plenty of good, hard working individuals locally. After talking with other business owners, I found we share the same frustration about finding and hiring qualified employees but also those who will stay beyond a probationary period and grow within the business.
An employer looks for individuals who demonstrate pride in their position and show a commitment to their job.
Our business does not require employees to have a specific level of education, it does require them to prepare and serve quality food, develop customer service and math skills, work as a team and manage work efficiently. These skills will give someone a good start in the business world.
We have a core group of managers and supervisors who strive to deliver the best we have to offer. They train and educate new hires in the practices that made our business successful for over 60 years.
Where did you grow up?
Tell us about your family.
My wife, Barbara, and I own and manage our restaurant and catering business, Klassic Catering. We have been best friends and partners for over 30 years and married for 25 years.
We have two children and two grandchildren. Our daughter, Erin, lives with her husband, John, in Brooklyn, New York, and our son, Quinn, and two grandchildren live locally.
I am an avid outdoorsman and enjoy hunting and fishing. My passion is hunting grouse with my dogs. I enjoy the challenge and competition playing Texas Hold’em.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
My wife and I take a long walk with our dogs, Bindi and Peiper. This is when we have a “business meeting”. We discuss our day, upcoming events, family and other topics. I routinely work out weekly at a local gym.
What’s the last thing you do at night before you fall asleep?
Where’s your favorite place to go on vacation?
We love the Finger Lake region in New York. There is great bird hunting in and around the Finger Lakes National Forest, great wineries, farm to table restaurants, hiking and fishing. We also enjoyed visiting Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
What’s your biggest fear?
In this election cycle, I would have to say I see our country is at a precipice. Whoever voters or electorate decide will be the next leader of our nation, will impact the course our country takes and our global position.
There is much at stake both now and for our future, with so much unrest in the world, economic factors both here and abroad, unemployment, terrorism, our open borders, changing culture, and so on. It’s a daunting position, so we need a strong leader to unite our country’s citizens, work in the best interest of its people and bring us into a new era where we are a strong, sovereign, respected and compassionate nation.
My hope is that we leave this country and world a better place for our children and grandchildren.
What’s your favorite restaurant and/or meal?
Why the Ranch Wagon of course!
Our area is blessed with a variety of good eateries. We enjoy going out for dinner and finding new interesting places to dine, as well as, our old favorites. NEPA people love food, and our rich cultural heritage lends to some pretty fantastic cuisine.
What do you want to do when you retire?
When I retire, I would spend more time outdoors with my family and friends, travel a little more, and relax.
Our businesses require us to work seven days a week, and I’ve been in this business since birth, so not having a defined schedule would be great. I would like to continue to learn new things, such as cooking and experimenting with new recipes. I would like to find a warmer climate for the winter months.