Back in 1981 Jeff Belsky ’87, M’95, took a job as a dishwasher at J.W. Hall’s Steak & Seafood Inn in Hopewell, just four days after the restaurant opened. Thirty years later he’s still there—only now he owns the place.
This past September, Belsky and his wife, Johnene, BSN ’07, officially took over as new co-owners of the restaurant, which has become a local landmark thanks to original owners Joe and Louise Hall.
Johnene was in RMU’s B.S.N. program and traveled to Nicaragua with Carl Ross, Ph.D., and RMU President Gregory Dell’Omo, Ph.D., for the university’s first trip to the country in 2007 as part of its collaboration with the with Universidad Politechnica de Nicaragua (UPOLI).
Jeff studied marketing at Robert Morris, graduating with a bachelor of science in business administration. He actually worked at J.W. Hall’s as a manager while he was an undergrad. Eight years later he returned to RMU to earn his M.B.A. Prior to purchasing the restaurant, he worked as vice president of strategic initiatives at Pittsburgh Technical Institute (PTI). He also owned his own consulting firm called Rising Leaders, which specialized in corporate leadership development.
“The success I’ve had in the business field over the years is attributed to what I learned through my RMU M.B.A.,” he says. “And I know it will continue to benefit me in this next step in my career.”
Last summer, Jeff, who still works part-time as an administrator at PTI, approached RMU looking for a way for the two institutions to work together. The result is a new agreement that allows PTI students with an associate’s degree to earn an RMU bachelor’s degree in than 18 months.
“It’s a wonderful option for anyone who wants to finish his or her bachelor’s quickly, but who’s working full-time and needs flexibility,” says Darcy B. Tannehill, Ed.D., RMU’s vice president for online and off-campus programs.
The first cohort, which began this fall, has 22 students; a second is set to start in January.
As for the restaurant, Jeff says that other than updating the décor and looking where they can improve, they don’t think they’ll be making any major changes.
“The Halls worked hard to build a well-known and beloved establishment,” he says. “We’re going to do everything we can to carry on that tradition, capitalizing on the good things, and adding improvements as needed.”
Jeff says that supporting the local economy is also important to them, adding that much of the produce you’ll find in their salad bar comes from local farmers.
Jeff and Johnene both had wonderful experiences at RMU, and both see similarities between their restaurant and the university. In fact, Johnene sees J.W. Hall’s as the “RMU of restaurants.”
“We have a lot of repeat customers,” she says, “and everyone knows your name. Just like Robert Morris, we focus on providing personal attention, a family atmosphere, and quality. People appreciate that, and that’s why they keep coming back.”
Written by Valentine J. Brkich
2284 Brodhead Rd
Aliquippa, PA 15001
Jeff and Johnene invite you to visit www.jwhalls.com to sign up for their eMail Club to receive special offers and news about what’s happening at the restaurant.
For more information on the RMU/PTI Degree Completer Opportunity, please contact Dr. Anthony R. Petroy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.397.6302.