MILTON — The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant across the country and around the world. The hospitality industry – even in the Susquehanna River Valley – has been particularly hard hit.
In an effort to keep its doors open, an iconic Milton-area business has launched a Go Fund Me campaign.
Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alicia Hoffman purchased Arrowhead Restaurant, located along Route 405 just north of Milton.
This pandemic has impacted restaurants with food, supply and employee shortages. Regular and new customers stopped venturing and the clientele changed due to the pandemic. Older customers have mostly stopped going out as much.
“We had to close when COVID, but the take-out window got us through and allowed us to continue with our business,” Hoffman recalls. “We did what we could to keep the business going during this difficult time.
“As of today, we have problems with employee shortages, food shortages and inflation,” she continued. “I racked my brains for a month and the only thing that came to my mind was to ask the community for help. I can’t do it myself, that’s why I ‘ve created a Go Fund Me page, to reach out to the community. I don’t want to see the restaurant close and I will fight until the end.”
While donations through the Go Fund Me page are encouraged, Hoffman hopes customers will continue to patronize the business.
“The biggest thing people can do is come in and have a meal,” she said. “I ask the community to help keep this icon alive.”
According to Hoffman, the company opened on June 1, 1947. It was first owned and operated by James and Edna Schell, who originally called it Red Arrow before changing its name.
Ownership eventually passed to Patty Hackenberg, who started working at the restaurant when she was 16. She passed away in 2015.
Hoffman felt responsible for keeping the business going.
“I do everything, day-to-day operations, ordering produce, scheduling, hiring, community relations, cooking,” she said.
The restaurant’s most famous item is its “Pig in a Blanket” sandwich, a deep-fried pork tenderloin topped with a choice of marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. It may also include mustard, ketchup, relish, and onions.
Many members of the community spent their teenage years hanging out at restaurants. Customers who remember those days often come by and share their stories, and Hoffman loves to hear them.
“The stories of the 50s and 60s, when the teenagers would come in and the guys would bring their cars and race them in front,” she said, while telling the stories. “You can see the expression on the face (of these storytellers), and the happiness.
A sense of community can be felt and seen in the restaurant itself. Displayed on the walls are memorabilia that many people have donated over the years. There are dreamcatchers, old newspaper articles, paintings, photographs and an exhibit of native dolls representing many different tribes.
“I have customers who stop by just to see the signage on the walls,” Hoffman said. “It’s almost like a little history museum, something that makes the restaurant stand out.”
Bethany See contributed to this article.