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Just like old times at Thomas’ Barbeque

First anniversary of Moosic restaurant reopening July 28

Above, Thomas’ is pictured during the grand reopening last July. Bottom, left, a view of the inside bar area of Thomas’

Above, Thomas’ is pictured during the grand reopening last July. Bottom, left, a view of the inside bar area of Thomas’

Beef being sliced on a 1950s Hobart slicer for a depression-era recipe barbecue sandwiches. Milk and ice cream getting a whirl in a 1940s Hamilton-Beech milkshake mixer. Pin up girls and World War II aircraft wall decor. A wooden phone booth and Formica tables.

A view from a time machine? A scene from the TV show Happy Days? A museum display?

No, it’s every day at Thomas’ Barbecue in Moosic. The iconic restaurant was founded in 1929 by Caroline Thomas and operated continuously by her family and descendants until 2004.

One year ago the restaurant was reopened after a six-year hiatus by Caroline’s granddaughter Candice Chilek of West Pittston the third-generation owner who, having started as a waitress at age 13, was part of the family juggernaut which kept the business going,

Her mother Betty was also a waitress at the barbeque. When Betty died in 2004 the restaurant was owned by Chilek’s Aunt Theda who was in her mid-80s and the restaurant was closed.

At that time Chilek, who had worked as a director of admission for a technical school, was working in rental property management and she actively sought to lease the business. There were interested parties, but they couldn’t secure loans, so Chilek, with some trepidation, decided to reopen Thomas’ Barbeque.

“Oh my God it was a big decision,” she said. One of the deciding factors was the possibility she could lose the restaurant’s liquor license if she didn’t reopen, but, she said, “I decided to go for it because my mother and grandmother had such a great love for it. I thought if my grandmother could start it in ‘29 I could give it a go in 2010.”

She had waitress experience, but not restaurant management experience, so she learned. “I got some good help and learned from them, did a lot of research of menus and prices.”

With the help of her fiancÚ Stephan Marr she did some remodeling, though not enough to change the retro look, and reopened last July with a limited menu. If Chilek worried her customers wouldn’t bridge the six-year gap when the barbeque was closed, they proved her wrong. They clamored for some of the menu items from the past and Chilek expanded the menu.

Now in addition to the restaurants signature barbeque sandwiches topped with sauce from her grandmother’s 1929 recipe, Chilek and her 10 employees prepare and serve hot pork, beef, and turkey sandwiches, honey dipped chicken, ice cream sundaes and more.

Thomas’ Barbeque was selected to be the food vendor at the Picnic in the Park in Scranton on July 31.

The first anniversary of the reopening is July 28 and Chilek said there will be a first anniversary celebration with giveaways and food and drink specialties.

Chilek said she is keeping prices low to attract families and many old customers have returned, but she hasn’t seen a lot of people from the Pittston area. “I lot of people still don’t know we’re open.”

Thomas’ Barbecue is 4810 Birney Ave., Moosic near Rt 502. The phone number 457-5720. The hours are Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11:30 to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 to 9 p.m.

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