By Steve Svetovich
Vinny Burney has been a fixture at Dunmore corners for over 20 years.
But all that came to a sudden end when Vinny died due to a heart attack suffered at home after leaving his restaurant Sunday, May 1.
He was only 63 and had no plans of retiring,
Vincent D. Burney, Sr. was the owner and operator of the popular mom and pop diner, Cugino’s Family Restaurant, 107 East Drinker St., Dunmore.
He has been a popular figure in Dunmore over the past two-plus decades. Vinny was always with a broad smile behind the counter.
Cugino’s was previously Tiffany’s Diner before Burney took over.
“Vinny was a great guy and friend,” said former Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney. “He always would greet anyone who came into his restaurant, He will be missed.”
Mike “Didge” Judge, Dunmore’s Director of Public Works, frequented Cugino’s on a daily basis for breakfast or lunch.
“Vinny was a guy who knew everyone in town,” he said. “He knew all of his customers by name.You just loved shooting the breeze with him. He kidded you and you kidded him back. He cooked everything there. He never left during working hours. He was open seven days a week for many years. He would not close down even for a vacation. Only recently did he go to six days a week, closing on Fridays after he took up golf.”
Didge said Vinny’s two waitresses, Debbie and Mary, worked many years for him and were devastated by his passing.
Didge met Vinny in the 1970’s when the two worked at RCA together.
“He was a great guy. I’ve known him for over 40 years. “I went into his restaurant every day. It was like going home to your mom’s house for dinner. Recently, I had a health issue myself and Vinny even devised a special diet for me. He cared about all of his customers.”
“I saw him the day of his heart attack. He left the restaurant after 1 p.m. or so. He waved to me and said it was going to be a nice afternoon. Then he went home and passed away from a heart attack.”
The restaurant has been temporarily closed since Vinny’s passing.
“He knew a lot of people in Dunmore. He was always there either cooking or at the counter. He never took a vacation, so he was always there.”
Cugino’s was open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Vinny, who did all the cooking, served breakfast and lunch.
He learned the restaurant business working out of a trailer in a diner in the Old Forge/Moosic area.
“If I didn’t show up, he would call the DPW department and ask where I was. He would be worried about me. He was that kind of guy.
“He was a people guy who did all the cooking and was always at the counter.
“He was a good egg and will be missed.”
A 1976 graduate of Carbondale Area High School, Vinny was married for 39 years to the former Susan Pavlowski. The couple celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary this past April 16.
The couple had three sons who survive: Vincent, Jr., Lake Ariel; Joshua, Dickson City; and Alex, Mount Cobb.
All of his sons helped him in the restaurant at one time or another. His wife was a constant and helped him with ordering.
He was known as hard-working and a good family man.
Born in Carbondale, Vinny was the son of the late Domenica Gillette.
“There will be a lot of customers missing Vinny,” said Didge. “He made you feel at home.”