By Steve Svetovich
Anyone who has lived in Green Ridge/Dunmore and surrounding area since 1958, is sure to have been to Brunetti’s Pizza and Deli, corner of Sanderson Avenue and Deacon Street in the Green Ridge section of Scranton.
And you are sure to know Anne Brunetti, Dunmore, 88, and her son Mike and his wife Therese. The Brunetti family have been fixtures at the exact same Green Ridge location since 1958.
But not much longer. The Brunettis sold the long standing business this past Aug. 15.
And it’s not easy to say goodbye. Not for the Brunetti family or their long standing customers– some of whom are still around from the opening of the business by Pasquale and Anne Brunetti in 1958.
Pasquale Brunetti ran the business with his wife until his passing in 1974. The couple’s son Mike started working in the business through his high school years beginning in 1969. Mike went into it on a full time basis with his mom after his dad’s passing.
Anne’s sister Mary also became a fixture and a friendly, smiling face behind the counter at Brunetti’s until her passing several years ago.
Mike’s wife Therese also became a bigger part of the business over the years and is part owner with her husband and mother-in-law.
Known for their signature fresh counter Italian hoagies, delicious pizza, texas weiners, Mike’s signature chilli, beer selection, soft drinks, ice cream freezer and various other menu items, Brunetti’s always kept prices low for its loyal customers.
Customers became family to the Brunetti family.
Customer’s children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren became customers.
And Dunmore’s Anne Brunetti was behind the counter for all 62 years of it.
Eating pizza, a hot dog, salad, or hoagie in “the back room,” a secret treasure to the loyalist of customers was a special treat.
The family behind the landmark in Green Ridge made its final decision to sell the establishment in early July.
The Brunetti family mulled the idea of selling the business last year. They celebrated 62 years in business on St. Patrick’s Day. Two days later, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a statewide business shutdown.
The Brunettis suffered a scare after celebrating their 62nd anniversary St. Patrick’s Day. Their son, a cancer survivor, was diagnosed with COVID-19.
“Our son Mike called us from Philadelphia,” said Therese Brunetti. “He told us he had the virus. And his girlfriend had it too. He was considered high risk as a cancer survivor. He became very ill with COVID-19.
“It really rocked us. We felt shocked and helpless.
“Mike and myself have immune-suppressing diseases, so we decided to close. We stayed closed for a time even after businesses were allowed to open. Then we opened up for outdoor pickup service for a while, but it became too much of a high risk for us due to COVID. We talked to Anne about it and decided as a family to sell the business. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full force, running the business became too risky for us.
“The people who walk in here every day are like family to us. That is what we love the most.
“We held a community service week for our customers this past July. We sold the pizza and hoagies for a final week and were able to say goodbye. The community rallied for us and we were sold out every night.
“We needed to do that. We wanted to say goodbye. A lot of tears were shed.”
The Brunetti family even became national celebrities with interviews coming from all directions, including two days with a filming crew from NBC News late last month.
“They are doing a segment as to how the COVID-19 pandemic has effected small businesses,” said Therese.
“We have been extremely emotional,” Mike and Therese Brunetti said. “This community is part of our family. We have seen our customer’s children and grandchildren grow.”
Anne Brunetti wanted to make sure to thank her loyal customers over the past six-plus decades. “It’s been sentimental, emotional,” she said. “I thank everyone.”
A closing date has not been set for the sale. Mike Brunetti can be found at the establishment on some afternoons selling the business’s final stock of beer, soda and soft drinks. And to be there for those who want to say one more goodbye.