McAlister's Deli opens along Routes 11-15 in Hummels Wharf

Mar. 17—HUMMELS WHARF — McAlister's Deli, a national restaurant chain, has found a new home directly in front of the Susquehanna Valley Mall in Hummels Wharf.

The new restaurant, the fourth McAlister's in Pennsylvania, opened on Mar. 4, said local owner Rathna Siv, of Harrisburg. The other Pa. locations are in Harrisburg, State College and Warrington.

This is the second McAlister's franchise location for Siv, and her partners in an ownership group. She also owns the Harrisburg restaurant.

When her ownership group wanted to start up something in the restaurant business, "I first considered a Cinnabon, but after that didn't work out, I looked to see what other options were out there, maybe a steakhouse, but then we looked at McAlisters."

She and her partners did their due diligence first, going to an existing McAlister's in Alexandria, Virginia.

"I liked their food, I was impressed by their operations, and people eating there loved it," Siv said. "I talked to the managers at the Virginia restaurant. When I found out there was one in State College, that interested us as well. I thought. Let's do this one."

Siv and her group opened the Harrisburg McAlister's first, before Selinsgrove. The Selinsgrove restaurant is located in a space that was formerly a Friendly's restaurant.

As a franchise operation, McAlister's "helped us get a small business loan and helped convert this space into a McAlister's Deli. When you give their corporate people a space, they have their in-house architects actually come in and advise us and the general contractor, who came in and did the work," Siv said.

All of the local McAlister's managers received five weeks of in-house training, "where everyone learns everything about how to run a McAlister's. Our managers went to the Harrisburg location for some real-life training," she added.

McAlister's training program includes mock scenarios.

The Selinsgrove restaurant has about 40 employees, a combination of full- and part-time.

The chain is best known for its sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts and sweet tea.

Besides dine-in and take-out service, McAlister's offers catering with a selection of sandwich trays, box lunches, desserts, food bars, breakfast options and more, Siv said.

McAlister's was founded nearly three decades ago by a dentist in Oxford, Mississippi, who had a vision to turn an abandoned movie-set diner into a small neighborhood restaurant and gathering place. There are now more than 500 McAlister's Deli restaurants in 28 states.