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Dining Out — Restaurant Roving: Restaurant themes reflect different eras


If you spent your formative years in the 1990s, you might want to head over to Old School Burgers in Ambler. If you came of age in the 1980s, the Willow Grove restaurant would be a nostalgic choice.

Owners Mark Spaetti, Chris McCarthy and Chuck Christy have given each restaurant a theme, geared toward the pop mentality of the time. Posters, music, games and décor are drawn from the appropriate decade.

Add to that a menu of 100 percent beef burgers, fries, shakes, cheesesteaks, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, mac and cheese, and pierogies topped with mac-and-cheese sauce, and you have a restaurant designed for those in their 30s or 40s with families, or anyone who likes burgers and nostalgia.

“When people come in, they share memories with their kids,” said the 40ish Spaetti, whose own father helped make him a fan of Elvis Presley.

It’s common to see parents pointing to movie posters that reflect their teenage favorites or CDs that show their favorite songs. Servers also find themselves jockeying to find room for food when families become engrossed in playing the board games of their youth that the owners provide for anyone who is interested.

While the name, “Old School” is more about the décor, it also applies to the signature burgers that are made fresh from beef delivered daily. No fillers are added, Spaetti said, and the only seasonings are salt and pepper.

They get a little crazier with other dishes such as the popular Weird Science Fries, which are seasoned with Old Bay and topped with white cheddar cheese sauce, crumbled bacon and dill pickle ranch dressing. Also the Milwaukee mac and cheese, with its seven-cheese sauce and topping of pulverized seasoned potato chips.

The Philly version of mac and cheese rib-eye steak, grilled onions and sweet peppers blended into the cheese sauce, then topped with garlic Parmesan sauce. Meanwhile the Pittsburgh has the seven-cheese sauce poured over potato-and-cheese-filled pierogies topped with kielbasa, grilled onions, crumbled bacon and sour cream.

Chicken lovers have a variety of choices including the Smothered Buzzard, a 10-inch roll with grilled or crispy chicken, grilled onions, portobello mushrooms, pickled sweet and banana peppers, cooper sharp American cheese, crumbled bacon and dill pickle ranch. They also could opt for BBQ Bacon Blue with American cheese, bacon, Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and chipotle blue cheese dressing.

For dessert there are hand-spun milkshakes.

The partners opened the Ambler restaurant about two weeks ago, following up on the success of the Willow Grove restaurant. The two restaurants share the same menu. The future may bring additional restaurants, each with its own theme.


242 E. Butler Ave., Ambler


1135 York Road, Willow Grove



11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Customer favorites:

Kevin Bacon: a cheeseburger served with extra cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo; Weird Science Fries seasoned with Old Bay and topped with cheese sauce, bacon and dill pickle ranch dressing; chicken parmesan sandwich.