Brunetti’s Pizza and Deli Ending 62-Year Run as Family Business

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Mike and Therese Brunetti stand with his mother Anne Brunetti at the family business which has now officially been sold.

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. 

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Anne Brunetti is pictured at the deli where she has been a fixture for six decades.

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. 

Dunmoreans of the Month: Amanda & Rebecca Lucas

By Steve Svetovich

Raising two daughters as a single mom has its challenges, but Dunmore’s Janet Lucas has absolutely no regrets. And she sure did good.

Amanda Lucas, Dunmore High School Class of 2018 Valedictorian, and Rebecca Lucas, Dunmore High School Class of 2020 Salutatorian, daughters of Janet Lucas, Dunmore, and Curt Lucas, South Carolina, are now college students.

Both were officers and members of many clubs at Dunmore. Both participated in various varsity sports and cheerleading. They were asked to represent Dunmore High School in leadership roles, including the Rotary Youth Leadership Association (RYLA) and Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY). Both are active leaders in the Dunmore community.

Their proud mom feels their accomplishments are extraordinary coming from sisters two years apart. 

Dunmoreans of the Month - JANET & family

Janet Lucas, at left, is shown at her daughter Amanda’s graduation in 2018 when she was valedictorian of her class. At right is daughter Rebecca, who was salutatorian of the DHS class of 2020.

“As a single mom,” she said, “I have strived to make my daughters feel like they matter, and that they are loved unconditionally. 

“I always wanted Amanda and Rebecca to be respectful, grateful, thoughtful and conscientious. I worked hard to instill those qualities and give them a strong foundation. From there, it was all them.

“Their work ethic and self motivation is unbelievable, even when it was difficult. I am so proud of the young women they have become, and so excited to see what they will accomplish. I am in awe of my daughters.”

Amanda is a junior at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, majoring in chemistry. She has an impressive 3.97 academic average. She serves as honor’s mentor for the Honor’s Program at St. Joseph’s. She is a resident assistant (RA) for a freshmen dormitory.

While at Dunmore, Amanda participated in golf, swimming, track and field, football cheerleading, yearbook editor, events coordinator for the engineering club, treasurer of the French Club and vice president of TACT. As a senior, she was Dunmore’s first female All Regional selection for golf. And she was class valedictorian and member of the National Honor Society. 

Articulate, courteous and polite, Amanda said she learned a lot from her mom. “My mom taught me about perseverance and hard work. In order to accomplish anything in life, you need to work hard at it. And she did a lot for me to help me along.” 

Amanda said she would like to eventually go to graduate school for Forensic Science and get into the field as a career. 

She said it is nice to see her sister do well in school. “It is a friendly competition and it’s good for us. She sees what I do and then strives to do better. It’s a good thing.”

Amanda, well spoken, has high praise for Dunmore. “It was so close knit and personal. We know all the teachers and they know us. It is also kind of cool to have your coaches as teachers.

“St. Joseph’s is also a small school. I have a small major and the same kids are in most of my classes. Right now we are wearing masks and social distancing. We social distance in the residence hall.”

Rebecca, 18, is a freshman at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia where she majors in Pharmacy. It is a six-year program and she has intentions of becoming a pharmacist. 

While at Dunmore, she was class salutatorian finishing with a 3.84 academic average. She was a member of track and field, golf, basketball cheerleading captain, Science Club, French Club, TACT, Art Club, SADD and National Honor Society. 

Also polite and insightful, Rebecca praised her mom. “My mom always taught me to work hard. She always tells me no matter what, it works out in the end. She is always there for me.”

Rebecca said she is grateful how Dunmore High School handled the pandemic. “Our teachers were very helpful getting us the information we needed online. They posted information on the AP test.

“Besides school work, I did a lot of running and spent time with family during the pandemic. It caused us to miss the track season.”

Finally, her class graduated this past July 17 in a small ceremony outdoors at the football stadium. 

Rebecca said her goal is to become a pharmacist and help with surgeries and new medicines. “Helping with new medicines is very important to me because of this pandemic.”

As Class of 2020 Salutatorian, she feels a sense of accomplishment. “I feel very honored. I put hard work into it and it paid off.”

She is also proud of her older sister’s accomplishments. “I have a strong sense of fulfillment for what she has done, but I don’t compare myself.”

Rebecca spoke glowingly of her experiences at Dunmore. “It was very fulfilling and heart warming. I received a great education and met a lot of amazing people.”

The sisters have one more thing in common. When asked separately who they would want to see in concert, if they could pick just one, both responded Harry Styles. 

LOOKING FOR INFORMATION: Italian Restaurant Mystery

Italian Restaurant Mystery newlyweds

Liliana Gemmo, married Melbert Molyneux, at Lackawanna County Courthouse in May of 1961. Afterwards, their best man, Dan McAlpin, shown at left, took them to “the best Italian restaurant” in Dunmore.

Maurice Molyneux of Oakland, CA., is seeking information from our readers. 

His late mother, Liliana, who was from Vicenza, married an American, Melbert Molyneux, at Lackawanna County Courthouse on the morning of May, 1961. Afterwards, their best man, Dan McAlpin, took them to “the best Italian restaurant” in Dunmore. 

Their son is trying to track down what restaurant that might have been, and points to a photograph of the newlyweds posing with their best man at 132 Chestnut St., Dunmore, where they may have parked.

Maurice notes that he was born in an ambulance between Vicenza and Verona and that the family lived in Verona when he was a “piccolo bambino.” 

His father had been in the Army and stationed at Tobyhanna, and he suspects that Dan McAlpin was also into the service. The maid of honor had the name Grace Kelly. 

As to how he knows the location shown in the photograph, he says that written on the back of the photo was the note “Dunmore.”

Italian Restaurant Mystery wedding day photo 00 location 400 Dix Court, Scranton, PA

Another photograph of the newlyweds was taken at 400 Dix Court, north of the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton. Shown from left are: Don McAlpin, best man; Grace Kelly, matron of honor; Liliana Gemmo, bride, and Melbert P. Molyneux, groom.

“I studied the picture and noted that I could see the street ended in a T intersection, and the perpendicular street at the end was at a slight angle, and the lighting was such that the photos were taken facing in a northward angle,” he explains. 

“So I went to Google maps, spotted any potential intersections that matched, then dropped to the street view and ‘walked’ back and forth,” he continues. “I pretty quickly realized it was probably Chestnut Street, and finally spotted the exact building in the background behind them, which still has the same stone pattern on the corner, and you can still see where the drainpipe was back in 1961.”

Molyneux adds that he has done the same thing to figure out where photos were taken in his mother’s home region in Italy. 

If anybody knows what Italian restaurant it might have been, please email The Dunmorean at dpi22news@gmail.com and we will pass information along to Mr. Molyneux.