The New Cloister Restaurant has a rich history in the Ephrata community, and the family-run business is one that draws in customers every day of the week.
Originally known as the Cloister Restaurant, it first opened in 1952, then was sold to Elva and Aaron Stauffer in 1973. Under their ownership, it became well known for Elva’s seasonal corn pie. The restaurant closed at the end of August 2019 when Elva Stauffer retired, but within a few months the building was sold to the Sivri family, veterans of the restaurant business who own the Black Olive Family Diner in Columbia. After renovations, the Ephrata restaurant was reopened in November 2020 as The New Cloister Restaurant.
The owner, Huseyin Sivri, is originally from Turkey. He came to the United States at the age of 14 and worked with his father in the restaurant the family owned in Delaware. He was immersed in the food industry through that and loves running his own restaurant now. He works 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, because he is determined to keep everything running smoothly and up to his standards so that his customers are always satisfied.
This diligence pays off: The restaurant serves around 300 people each weekday and well over 500 on Saturdays and Sundays, with Sundays proving to be the busiest day of the week. According to T.J. Sivri, Huseyin’s 20-year-old son who helps out at the restaurant, Sundays are a full house from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Thanks to the large extended family, a mix of Turkish and Greek in origin, the Sivris have been able to collaboratively run the two family restaurants with great success. The menus are very similar and reflect Huseyin Sivri’s love of American cuisine and diner-style food, like sautes, ham steaks and even seafood.
“We have a large menu,” T.J. Sivri told The Lancaster Patriot. “We try to incorporate a lot of the Dutch food that’s popular in this area — so, like, your roast turkeys, your roast beefs. A lot of people like their open-faces over stuffing, and that kind of meal, but we also incorporate a lot of Jersey-style foods, so we have a lot of sandwiches, pitas, gyros.”
The restaurant offers daily specials for all three meals, and the food is served in generous portions and priced affordably. The breakfast menu is available all day long, and dinner entrees that are not pasta or rice dishes come with two sides, as well as a soup or salad and a pudding. There are also holiday specials, like pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, and turkey on Thanksgiving. The only day the restaurant is closed is Christmas Day.
Because of how much the Sivris care for their customers and how they want everyone to feel like they have a spot in the New Cloister, the restaurant has gained plenty of regulars, many of whom come weekly or even daily. T.J. Sivri said, “They’re like friends now. They’re almost like family, and it’s the funniest thing because you know what they’re going to order, you know what they want. It’s like, you know when they’re going to come in, and you know what they drink.”
The New Cloister Restaurant, located at 607 W. Main St. in Ephrata, is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The menu can be found at blackolivediner.com/cloister-menu, and the daily specials are often posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page, facebook.com/thenewcloisterrestaurant.