- May 16, 2018
Situated on a quiet neighborhood street in Elizabethtown, T.J. Rockwell’s is the quintessential American bar and grill. A spacious indoor dining area and sprawling back deck have served loyal patrons from Central Pennsylvania for over two decades. Heady Times sat down with Jeanine Heckman, bar manager and wife of co-owner Steve Heckman, to learn all about this local haunt.
Heady Times (HT): Can you tell us about the history of T.J. Rockwell’s?
JH: T.J. Rockwell’s was started by brothers Steve and Jeff Heckman 21 years ago. They both are from the area and had restaurant experience. When they were getting married and starting families, they decided to start their own business. They wanted a restaurant for families that would fit well in the community, with a menu full of great American food, hence the name. We also have a second location, in Mechanicsburg, which has been open for 11 years.
HT: How would you describe the atmosphere here?
JH: It’s a casual dining bar and grill – a friendly neighborhood establishment with lots of regulars. Being that we are in central PA, we have a lot of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Penn State sports fans. Game days are big for us.
HT: What is your beer selection like?
JH: We have 18 taps and most of the beer we serve is on draught, but we also carry a selection of bottles. On tap, we have the usual domestics and rotating seasonals, but also a nice variety of IPAs. IPAs are very hot for us right now. We’ve seen a lot of our customers branching out and trying craft beer. We also make our own shandy with Blue Moon & homemade lemonade and we offer handcrafted crushes served in mason jars.
HT: Do you serve any dishes unique to T.J. Rockwell’s?
JH: Our rhino fries. They’re fries with melted cheese, bacon and homemade ranch. The rhino is sort of our unofficial mascot. In the 90s (when we opened), every company had a mascot. I think it caught on because our portions are big – you’ll never go home hungry.
HT: The outside deck here is huge. What’s it like in the summer?
JH: Busy! The weekends are crazy when the weather is nice. The deck has its own crab shack, a bar that looks like a boat and a separate kitchen; it’s one of the biggest decks in Lancaster County. On Sundays, we have seafood specials in the afternoon. We have dedicated clientele who always come back in the summer to sit on the deck. It’s a great atmosphere and it feels like a little bit of the tropics out there.
HT: How has Origlio helped you be successful?
JH: Origlio has been great to work with! They have been very generous with items like umbrellas for the deck, and anything else we need. Our sales rep Curtis has also been helping all of us learn more about beer.
TJRockwells.com • 800 Mt. Gretna Rd., Elizabethtown • 717-367-5544