Words and Photography by Jadrian Klinger
Just off of Hershey Park Drive in the Park Village Plaza, mere minutes from the numerous Hershey attractions and Penn State Hershey Medical Center, the latest Arooga’s location is poised to open this month. This – the eighth incarnation of the popular Central Pa. spot for wings, sports and much, much more – will be the staging ground for the future of Arooga’s.
In addition to all that the growing legion of Arooga’s fans have come to enjoy and expect (fantastic food, drinks, specials and service as well as 100-plus TVs with a view of every game from every seat), the Hershey location will be the launching pad for their new, slimmed-down menu.
“We are releasing our new menu here in Hershey,” states Gary Huether, Jr., Arooga’s president and co-founder, “and it’s going to be our biggest menu overhaul in company history. It will roll out here, and then go to the rest of our stores.”
Of course the classic menu standouts loved by so many Arooga’s regulars will remain available and unchanged, but after nearly five months of planning, recipe honing and tasting, the new offerings are sure to please every palate, including those with specific dietary restrictions.
Several new menu items incorporate the many and varied flavors of beer. There’s the Sam Adams Boston Lager Steamed Shrimp, Victory Hop Devil IPA Mussels, Tröegs Dreamweaver Wheat Top Neck Clams, Yuengling Beer Battered Clams, Soft Pretzels & Beer Cheese, Beer Cheese Chili Nachos and Beer Cheese Soup – just to name more than a few.
Speaking of beer, the Hershey location will feature 50 taps, two of which are cask-condition brews.
Then there’s the Wagyu Kobe Burgers, which come in just about every interestingly delicious flavor combination imaginable, from The Pittsburgher (fried egg, applewood-smoked bacon and American cheese) and The PB & J Burger (creamy peanut butter, strawberry jelly and apple-wood-smoke bacon) to The Grilled Cheese Burger Melt (two grilled cheese sandwiches acting as the bun for the burger, more cheese and applewood-smoked bacon) and The Land & Sea Burger (broiled lump Maryland crab cake stacked on top of the burger with Old Bay remoulade, lettuce and tomato).
Huether’s favorite new menu item, aside from the Wagyu Kobe Burgers, is the Buffalo Chicken Smashed-up Potato Bowl.
Arooga’s new menu also offers plenty of options for those seeking a more healthful choice. “We’ve expanded our salad line,” says Huether, “from chop salads to many low-calorie salads.”
The Hershey location will also be the first Arooga’s to be certified as gluten-free friendly, Huether says.
“We have a designated fryer for gluten-free fried items, and we have a new oven that only cooks proteins in the top two ovens, making everything that comes out of it gluten-free,” Huether says. “We went through our menu, and we have put logos next to all of the gluten-free items or options.”
Arooga’s also lays claim to a green certification.
“We use no Styrofoam, we use energy-management systems that reduce our carbon footprint, hand dryers in the bathrooms instead of paper towels, low-flow water fixtures, biodegradable to-go boxes and bags and eco-friendly dish chemicals,” Huether says. “We are also audited every year to make sure we are keeping to standards.”
Another perk of the soon-to-be-open Hershey location?
“We have more parking here than any other of our locations,” Huether says. “…We are also planning to get a shuttle bus to take people to and from Bears’ games and concerts, and at Hershey Medical Center for the students on the weekends.”
Yet with all of the new additions being introduced at Arooga’s Hershey, the features that have made them so successful continue to be at the forefront of the popular restaurant chain – not least of which are the award-winning wings served with a choice of 40 different sauces.
Huether sums it up perfectly, “We are a great sports bar, but we are also a restaurant that serves great food.”
For more information on the Hershey location as well as the other seven Arooga’s throughout the midstate, visit aroogas.com.