By Kaylee Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - Since 1948, Vernalis Restaurant has been a mainstay of Shenandoah's downtown eateries.
Passed down through three generations, the restaurant remains at its first location at 32 South Main Street, with a dining room expansion when the building next door was acquired in 1989.
This week, the restaurant will celebrate its 70th year in a variety of ways, through specials which recognize the family's Greek and Polish heritage, and, on Thursday, an outdoor stand where a variety of items will be sold for $0.70.
To go along with the celebration, Mayor Andrew J. Szczyglak, a cousin of the family, proclaimed the week "Vernalis Restaurant Week" in the borough.
The proclamation reads: “I, Andrew J. Szczyglak, Mayor of the Borough of Shenandoah, do hereby recognize and honor the late Peter and Mary Vernalis, son Peter and Charlotte Vernalis, grandchildren Lisa and Michael Vernalis for their years of service and commitment to the community."
“Whereas, Vernalis Restaurant brings a sense of happiness and togetherness to friends and families in our community."
“Now, therefore, be it resolved that I, Andrew J. Szczyglak, congratulate you and declare the week of August 13, 2018 through August 19, 2018 as ‘Vernalis Restaurant Week’ in the Borough of Shenandoah.”
"It all started with my grandparents. My great grandparents had the old Boston Lunch in Shenandoah back in the day, and then in 1948, my grandparents Peter and Mary Vernalis purchased this building and started Vernalis's Restaurant and we've been here ever since," said Lisa Vernalis, who owns the restaurant with sibling Michael.
"It's on its third generation. It went from Peter and Mary Vernalis, to our parents, which are Peter and Charlotte Vernalis, to my brother and myself," added Lisa.
Lisa added that, from 10:30am Thursday until sell out, the restaurant would sell various items at the outdoor stand for $0.70 each, including bleenies, hot dogs, babka, haluskie, spanakopita, pierogies, and tyropita. She added that gyros and polish meatballs would also be sold, though they wouldn't be $0.70.
"Thursday's going to be the big day outside," said Mike.
According to Lisa, their restaurant is the fourth oldest business in the borough, behind Kowalonek's, Abrachinsky's, and Oravitz.
Lisa showed appreciation for the customer base of the restaurant, noting "we have a lot of loyal customers, and they make the day fun. If it wasn't for those people supporting us throughout all these years."
"We've been working here since we were kids," said Mike.
In recognition of the 70th anniversary, restaurant patrons during the week will have a chance to win a $70 gift certificate, "$70 for 70."
Moving forward, the fate of the restaurant is unknown. Neither Mike nor Lisa have children who could take over the restaurant, and the siblings are in their 50s.
"We'll hopefully be retired by 66 or so," said Mike.
"We're hoping to get 80 in. 10 more years, a good 80, but then after that," said Lisa.
Vernalis Restaurant is open 7am to 6pm Monday, Thursday and Friday from 7am to 2pm Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, and it is closed on Wednesday.