Dunmorean of the Month: Brian Mills

By Steve Svetovich

Brian Mills is a proud lifelong Dunmore resident.

And he is even prouder to own and operate two of Dunmore’s oldest landmarks.

He is owner and operator of the Chestnut Street Tavern, 501 Chestnut St., Dunmore, and Brian’s Auto Body and General Repair Shop, LLC, 333 Chestnut St., Dunmore.

Both locations have housed Dunmore businesses for the past century. 

Mills, 52, has operated the Chestnut Street Tavern for the past 11 years. He met his wife, the former Lora Viola, a 1982 Dunmore graduate, there. She was a waitress at the time for Lombardo’s, the former name of the corner bar from 1978 to 2009. 

“The previous owner was selling and we decided to buy it and turn the business around,” he said. “We also got married.”

Prior to Lombardo’s, the corner bar at the landmark was Ianelli’s Bar, which opened in the early 1930’s after the owners came to Dunmore from Italy, Mills said. “There was a separate entrance for men and women back then. I know they used to have pasta dinners every Sunday.”

Mills calls the Chestnut Street Tavern one of the last corner bars around. He serves wine, bottled beer, eight different draft beers and IPAs. The bar is open from 11 a.m, to 2 a.m. six days a week and Sunday’s from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

Steak and cheese, hamburgers, wings, pizza, meatball and all kinds of hoagies are among the specialties. The sauces are homemade. There is karaoke on Tuesday night and a D.J. on Friday and Saturday night. “It is a happening place,” Brian says.

Mills has been in the auto repair business for 34 years. He has operated at the Chestnut Street location for the past seven years.

The operation was previously Morell’s Auto and Body Shop, operated by the late Frank Morell for over 50 years. Morell was a former Dunmore Math and English teacher.

Prior to that, the landmark was used as both a butcher shop and funeral home. It was originally a horse and buggy shop going back over 100 years.

Mills has one daughter, Brittany Mills Boyd, 28, Scranton. He also has one granddaughter, Luna Boyd, 6. 

“I am very proud to own these two businesses which are both on Chestnut Street,” he said. “It is remarkable that these landmarks have housed businesses for over 100 years. Since I have lived in Dunmore my entire life, I enjoy serving this community.”

Dunmorean of the Month: Betsy McGrath Ardizoni

By Steve Svetovich

Some individuals like to give back to the community.

Betsy McGrath Ardizoni wanted to do something to honor her late dad, Atty. Harry McGrath.

So she decided to run a golf tournament to honor him and also support programs for children at the YMCA in Dunmore.

She chaired the golf tournament, named after her late dad, this past May 21, to support programs at the local YMCA.

“My dad was just a huge part of the YMCA, so that is why I chose to help the programs there,” Betsy said.

The second annual Harry P. McGrath Memorial Golf Tournament and Celebration was held Friday, May 21, at Glen Oak Country Club. 

Proceeds went to benefit the Greater YMCA Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program through literacy instruction, enrichment activities and positive youth development opportunities. 

Harry P. McGrath

Betsy, 32, who lives her her husband Guy in Dunmore, is also development director at the Scranton Cultural Center. 

Her dad died in September of 2018. Her mom’s name is Joell. Betsy has three brothers: Harry, Bob and Joe.

“We held the golf tournament in his memory, but because of my dad’s connection throughout the years with the YMCA in Dunmore we decided to raise funds to help children get back on track in school. 

“The YMCA runs a six-week summer program that helps grade school children who have fallen behind get back on track for their next grade level.

“My dad was a lifetime member of the YMCA. As an attorney, he specialized in education law. He was a big supporter of children and education. He was a good man, with great values who led a good life. He also held the YMCA in high regard and was a big supporter of the programs there.”

Betsy said 144 people attended the golf event and over $45,000 was raised to support the YMCA summer program for the school age children.

“This money raised will help kids in school while also honoring my father’s legacy.”

Betsy said over 150 school age children have been served since the start of the program. 

The program currently serves incoming first, second and third graders in the Dunmore and Mid Valley School Districts.

“Our goal is to expand even more and offer the program to more school districts,” she said. 

“The goal regarding the program is to get a child’s reading level on track for the next grade level.”

Betsy graduated from Scranton High School in 2007 and Penn State in 2011 where she earned a bachelor of science degree in Labor and Employment Relations. 

She worked in marketing at the Wright Center for three and one-half years before taking the position as development director for the Scranton Cultural Center in January 2020. “I love my job there,” she said.

This McGrath family photo includes, from left: Michele McGrath, Bob McGrath, Joe McGrath, Harry McGrath Jr., Stephanie McGrath holding Ella, Betsy McGrath Ardizoni holding Maeve, Guy Ardizoni, and Joell McGrath holding Harry P. McGrath.

Her husband is a 2000 Dunmore graduate. The couple has a baby on the way, with Betsy expected to deliver this August. “We are so happy and can’t  wait for the baby to come,” she said.

Betsy, who was a cheerleader and played basketball in high school, said she is thrilled money raised from the golf tournament will help younger school age children. “My dad would have liked that since he was such a strong supporter of children and education. It is something he would fight for in his law practice. So in my dad’s name, we feel privileged to help out with this great YMCA program.”

Betsy is on the Board of Directors at the YMCA in Dunmore.

Committee members for the golf tournament included Betsy, Harry McGrath, Jr.; Bill McGrath, Janet Brier, Jeanie McGrath, Lorraine Perry, Matt Haggerty, Kelly Hadley, Chad Vinansky, Brian Loughney, YMCA Board President Bill Dempsey, CEO of the Greater YMCA Trish Fisher, YMCA staff member Robert Dubila and YMCA staff member Meghan Carnevale. 

The late Atty. Harry McGrath was a proud member of the Greater YMCA who specialized in education law, advocating for the rights of students, particularly those with special needs. It became his passion to improve the quality of education in Northeast PA.

The Greater Scranton YMCA is honored to host this annual event in his memory.

Dunmoreans of the Month: Josh Cantarella, John Keating & David Lopatka

Dunmoreans of the Month include, from left: Josh Cantarella, Shawn Keating, Dave Lopatka and John Keating of DJ2 Lawn Care in Dunmore.

By Steve Svetovich

Having a strong work ethic usually adds up to success.

Such is the case with three Dunmore teens, now young adults in their mid 20’s. 

John Keating, David Lopatka and Josh Cantarella, all members of the Dunmore High School Class of 2014, were three close friends looking to make spending money and save for college. They were sophomores at Dunmore when they decided to mow lawns for some extra cash. 

The teens eventually added trimming bushes, making flower beds and landscaping to their repertoire. 

It all started word of mouth in the Dunmore borough.

The boys were hard working, diligent and trustworthy and soon developed a good reputation adding more and more customers.

Son of Sue and Shawn Keating, John Keating, now 25 and a Penn State business administration graduate, eventually got his dad involved in the business.

“It has now evolved into a lawn care company that is owned and operated by my husband, son and my son’s two friends David and Josh,” said Sue Keating, Dunmore. 

“The business, before it was actually a business, was started by my son and his two friends when they were in the 10th grade at Dunmore. They began doing this for extra money. They started word of mouth in the borough. They worked tirelessly during the summer to make some extra cash for college and to just have some pocket money for themselves. 

“I watched my son and his two friends go out at 8 a.m, and work until dark doing a lot of labor intensive jobs. They never complained or gave up. 

“Eventually all three of these young men went away to college and my husband tried to help out by keeping the regular customers the boys did lawn work for. He got involved in doing the work as a way of helping them out. 

“After returning from college the boys decided this could be something bigger due to all of the inquiries for additional services. 

“After going over all the details they decided to file and apply for an L.L.C. They are now preparing for the upcoming season and are ready to go. 

“I have always been in awe of their work ethic. I saw them at 15 and 16 being so focused and determined to be successful. It is a rarity to see this type of hard work and determination at a young age. And they are all college graduates today.”

Her son John Keating works as a logistics analyst for Leidos. He is a former Eagle Scout with Dunmore Troop No. 66. He has a B.S. degree from the Penn State Smeal College of Business.

Lopatka, 25, is an accountant for Baker and Tilly, Wilkes Barre. He earned an M.B.A. from Bloomsburg University.

Cantarella, 24, has a B.S. degree in marketing from Penn State. He is an insurance auditor for Guard Insurance, Wilkes Barre. He was a member of the Blue Band at Penn State. 

The young men over the years added an assortment of equipment they utilize for their landscaping work.

Access NEPA named the business the best landscaping business in the area for 2020. The business obtained its L.L.C. in 2020. 

“I saw them trimming bushes and doing landscaping work week after week after school and on weekends throughout college,” Sue Keating said. 

“I am very proud of these three young men. They are so hard working. It is very impressive. They added equipment and really enjoy the work. Now my husband is involved in the business with them.

“Even though they are all college graduates and have regular jobs, they still love doing this. They came a long way in the past 10 years.”