Mixology class

Jeff Loeffler, owner of Casali’s LLC, is pictured in the middle at a mixology class at Chicken Hill Distillery in Kersey.

ST. MARYS — Casali’s Italian Grille, an Italian restaurant on South St. Marys Street has announced its expansion.

Casali’s is a family-owned business offering Italian food, fresh ingredients, custom cocktails and infusions and microbrews.

Jeff Loeffler, who owns Casali’s LLC with his sister and brother-in-law, Julie and Eric Wonderling, said it has always been their goal to work with other area businesses, while aiming to attract more local and traveling customers.

Casali’s, which opened in 2013, recently started an expansion process, incorporating a new local wine, shine and brew room, along with additional seating, a rental room and more. The Grille will stay open throughout the expansion, which Loeffler hopes will be complete in October.

“This expansion is necessary because there are too many people coming to St. Marys, but spending their tourism dollars 30-50 miles away,” Loeffler said. “We want to draw them to our town, show them a great experience and hopefully send them home wishing they could stay longer next time.”

Loeffler is a certified Master Mixologist worked for Darden Restaurants for 12 years and was a culinary assistant for several stores.

“That’s our niche here — almost everything from the kitchen has something from the bar in it.”

CIG features local wines and brews from places such as Straub Brewery, and pasta sauces with ingredients from local venues.

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Trip Advisor has Casali’s rated the No. 1 restaurant in Elk County, and it also received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2017. The restaurant was voted best Italian in Elk County last year, and was a finalist for best bartender and best in Italian in the tri-county area in 2018, Loeffler said.

“We have done a really good job at establishing a great base of incredible clientele over the past few years, and we’ve started thinking about what the next step is.”

Casali’s expansion will not only benefit the business itself, but hopefully the St. Marys area in general and all it has to offer, Loeffler said. The goal is not to compete with other businesses, but work together to be better.

The front of CIG will expand to incorporate not only the new wine, shine and brew room, but indoor seating, a decorative environment and fireplace, free internet and television, open ceilings and a 28-foot bar, as well as a room that can be rented out for parties. The new room will include more than 50-70 local wines, moonshines, beer and merchandise, Loeffler said.

The new addition will also offer specialty chocolate and coffee drinks, such as alcoholic and nonalcoholic lattes, with a signature roasted blend from Aegis Coffee Roasters of DuBois.

A “kegs and eggs” breakfast service will be served in the new room from 6-10 a.m.

Bar hours will be extended after midnight, and wine will be available by the bottle for takeout.

By developing key partnerships with area agencies, the restaurant’s owners are confident they can bring in more tourism dollars, while attracting some of the two million people per year who travel through St. Marys but don’t stop, Loeffler said.

“St. Marys is a wonderful place, located in the heart of the PA Wilds,” he said. “It’s in the middle of all kinds of outdoor and historic attractions. The people here have integrity, are hard working, welcoming and friendly, and put out great products and services.”

For more information, visit Casali’s Italian Grille on Facebook, www.casalisgrille.com or call 814-834-6400.

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