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Business as usual at Agolino’s restaurant

Popular West Pittston eatery reopened Friday after being flooded in September

Cindy Strelish, senior wait staff, prepares the computer before the first patron arrives.

Alyssa Grove pours dressing on a long awaited salad during lunch at Agolino’s Friday.

photos by tony callaio

Top, Agolino’s today. bottom, right after the flood.

Little Gabby Agolino, granddaughter of Joe and Camelina (behind Gabby), does the honors of cutting the ribbon to the reopening of Agolino’s Family Restaurant Friday in West Pittston.

photos by tony callaio

Jack Joyce, left, has the distinction of being the first customer, along with his mom Janet, for the reopening.

Dana Magyar serves up a very happy Bill Yoemans his breakfast special

Joe Bellino, Atty. Michael Butera, Billy Joyce, Frank Schevets and Bobby Faber seem to be at home at the newly located counter.

As patrons streamed into his restaurant for its reopening on Friday morning, Joe Agolino, the owner of Agolino’s Family Restaurant in West Pittston, said with his voice noticeably emotional, “This is a great day in my life.”

Agolino has lived in West Pittston for more than 60 years. He is the father of four children and has been through and seen a lot in his life, but the ordeal of bringing his restaurant back after the September flood was monumental.

“My dad planted the seed, but I, with the help of many family and friends, have been able to fertilize this restaurant,” said Agolino.

It’s been nearly three months since the September flood poured 7 1/2 feet of water and mud in the dining room and kitchen of the iconic Garden Village eatery. But now, with the grand reopening, Agolino’s is back.

“It’s been overwhelming to say the least and thanks to a lot of people from friends, to the borough, to the county and of course to the customers, I don’t think I’d be able to do this,” continued Agolino.

Joe’s brother Sam couldn’t be happier for his brother, the town, and the customers that have been loyal to the business. “It’s bittersweet in a way not having my parents here to see how hard my brother persevered to get the restaurant back open,” said Sam. “I marvel at his resilience and not one nail or screw was reused, everything is brand new.”

The restaurant, which opens weekdays at 7:00 a.m. sharp, had two early birds. Janet Joyce and her son Jack walked in at 6:50 a.m. “We just had to be the first customers in the door,” said Janet. “This is an exciting day.”

Jack had a bet with another regular patron, Bobby Faber, on who would be first to arrive. Faber was just a bit late.

Kate Gabriele thoroughly enjoys a good breakfast and often stops at Agolino’s to get her day started. Kate – better known to many in the area as Chef Kate from Rustic Kitchen Restaurant at the Mohegan Sun Casino – was happy to see the Agolino family back on their feet. “Supporting our local businesses is not only a responsibility but it truly is the American way. We stand together and persevere come what may,” said Gabriele.

Sandra Grove, a life-long resident of West Pittston, is happy to see the establishment reopen. “The town is recovering and now Agolino’s is opened. It’s a good feeling,” said Grove.

“This is a great establishment,” said Exeter Mayor Cassandra Coleman, who also stopped in on Friday. “I’m amazed on how quick they came back. This place has great memories for me of when my grandfather (former Exeter Mayor, the late Joe Coyne) would dine with us here. The restaurant is simply better than ever.”

“We’re thrilled to be back. We’ve missed everyone,” family member Corinne Agolino Salko said.

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