Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bartuska's is closing

The last furniture store in Nanticoke, and one of the few remaining active businesses in Nanticoke, is going out of business.

Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice: Bartuska's Furniture closure leaves void in Nanticoke

This is a sad but almost inevitable development. As the owners note, it was hard enough selling moderately-priced American-made furniture when the major chain competitors are selling cheap junk from China. But in an economy where discretionary incomes have dropped to zero, where people don't even have the money to pay for the gas to go to their jobs (if they're lucky enough to have jobs), furniture purchases are not a priority.

Bartuska's closing will leave a major void on Main Street in Nanticoke. Two voids - they also own a warehouse across the street, though the city has announced plans to purchase that. In a slightly better economy this might be a prime opportunity for a new business to set up shop in the old building. (Bartuska's has an enormous room-sized elevator in the back for transporting furniture from one floor to the next - how cool is that?) But at this point I cannot envision anyone else opening a business downtown.  I hope to be proved wrong.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New business in Nanticoke: Coffee's Coffee!

Coffee's Coffee, a coffee shop and cafe in downtown Nanticoke, PA

71 East Main Street in Nanticoke
(the old location of McDonald's Newsstand, across the street from Luzerne County Community College's Health Sciences Center, formerly the Kanjorski Building)

Monday-Friday 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM  
Saturday 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM 
Sunday 7:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Nearly three years ago Nanticoke lost one of its oldest businesses when McDonald's Newsstand closed its doors. Since that time the building has been empty and closed, a sad reminder of better days that really weren't that much better.

A few months ago I became involved with an individual with a vision for a revitalized downtown Nanticoke. The centerpiece and cornerstone of his vision was the recent establishment of new educational centers from Luzerne County Community College: the Health Sciences Center on the corner of Main and Broadway (in the old Kanjorski Building) and the Joseph A. Paglianite Culinary Arts Institute located just two blocks away on the corner of Main and Nanticoke Avenue. These places were bringing students to the area, students who needed services provided to them and who, in turn, would do business with businesses providing those services.

The project was eventually put on the back burner for a variety of reasons, but I was inspired with my own vision: the old McDonald's Newsstand building would be a perfect location for a coffee shop designed to meet the needs of L.C.C.C. students looking to meet, grab a quick coffee, and check the internet before and between classes. For months I have dwelled on this vision, wondering what could be done to make it a reality.

It turns out that for the past two years, someone has been working to make this vision a reality.

Coffee's Coffee is the dreamchild of proprietor Kim Coffee. (Yes, that's her real name.) I was a little disappointed when I parked across the street and walked towards the building and noticed that the neon OPEN sign was no longer flashing like it had been a few hours earlier. I decided to take some photos anyway. Having a distressingly large man taking pictures of your business with a distressingly small camera tends to get a reaction - and the woman who was cleaning up for the day unlocked the door and motioned for me to come in.

Location, location, location: Directly across the street from the Luzerne County Community College Health Sciences Center, and a quick walk from the Joseph A. Paglianite Culinary Arts Institute

We talked for a while, more than a while, and Kim Coffee showed me around the place. I was wrapped in double-vision with each step as I remembered the space as it was - dodging around a phantom counter that wasn't there anymore - and drank in the space as it is now.

Candy, a coat rack, and a jukebox! Notice the cast-iron radiator against the wall.

Except for tidbits like the cast-iron radiator above, Coffee's Coffee doesn't bear much resemblance to the old newsstand. Having just opened a few days ago (a "soft opening;" the Grand Opening won't be until this coming Wednesday, March 21), everything is shiny and new, and there is a sense of anticipation and ambition about the place.

Get a load of that backsplash!

And beauty: this is a very beautiful place. There is something to see everywhere you turn, and as much as I tried to photograph every inch of the place, I am sure there are things I missed.

Close-up of backsplash

Of course, Coffee's Coffee a place of business, specifically there to sell you food and drink. So what do they have to offer?

Menu 1: Specializing in paninis, hot dogs, and soup

In the breakfast and lunch departments, there are paninis, hot pressed grill sandwiches, and hot dogs, soup, and some breakfast things as well - egg on an English muffin, bagels, and tuna on a bagel.

Menu 2: Coffee and tea (and there are already requests for bubble tea!)

Of course, there's a selection of coffees to choose from, along with espresso, cappuccino, latte, and chai ( a personal favorite), as well as green tea. (I've already been asked to relay a request for bubble tea, which is increasingly popular, though it hasn't reached the level of cupcakes and bacon yet.)

Menu 3: Smoothies and Frappes

Then there are smoothies and frappes, too - it would take a while just to run the drinks menu!

The Persistence of Memory - or, Hello, Dali!

A Dali-inspired clock is one of several throughout the cafe.

The smoothie, panini, hot dog, cappuccino, and espresso bar. Check out that woodwork!

The self-serve coffee section

There's also a self-serve coffee section in the back, near an expanded area for group gatherings. So now Nanticoke's bloggers, writers, and artists will have a place to hang out and share ideas!

And, of course, there is a wide selection of pastries!

Spoon and Fork time

Bouquets of flowers expressing well-wishes for the new business. The one on the right is from the City of Nanticoke!

Fresh flowers on every table in memory of Kim Coffee's father, Michael Coffee

The Coffee name is well-known throughout the region. Tragically, Kim's father was killed by a drunk driver several years ago (a drunk driver who was subsequently given an outrageously short sentence), and she has added many touches in his memory, including the fresh flowers at every table. Kim's father saw fresh flowers as the sign of a quality establishment; plastic flowers on a table were only dust collectors, and who wanted dust on their food?

Close-up of clock table

Coffee's Coffee fills several needs that have existed in Nanticoke for a while. Its existence is a reason to have hope for the gradual rebirth of the city. I wish Kim and her staff the best of luck in their new endeavor, and may they do business as robust as their coffee!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stained glass windows and the passing of an old world

A while ago I was invited to give a presentation at the first-ever Pecha Kucha night in Scranton. I decided to create a presentation that combined my study of the stained glass windows of St. Mary's Church with some of my "The Churches of Nanticoke" project, along with commentary on church consolidation, closure, and demolition. You can see the images used in this presentation, and read a version of what I said, here:

Another Monkey: Against the Dying of the Light

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Musicfest 2011

Nanticoke Musicfest 2011 starts TOMORROW!

Friday - June 17, 2011
5-8 PM: Farmer's Daughter
8-11 PM: Pop Rox

Saturday - June 18, 2011
4-5 PM: GNA Ed Center Idol on Tour
5-8 PM: Johnny Unit
8-11 PM: Tyme Band

Patriot's Park in Nanticoke, Pa.

MusicFest 2011 will feature bands, games, refreshments and fun for the whole family!

For details: Musicfest 2011

Kids and Family Festival, 6/25/11

The Kids and Family Festival is coming to Patriots' Square, June 25 2011! See here for more information:

Nanticoke 6/25/11 NEPA Cycling Event Promotions

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 Nanticoke city-wide yard sale - Saturday, June 4

From the Nanticoke City website:

(2011) City Wide Yard Sale

Saturday June 4th 8am to 2PM. Rain date Sunday June 5th. Maps and a list of sellers can be picked up Saturday morning at City Hall, 15 E. Ridge St. Nanticoke.

If anyone is interested in participating call 735-2800 to leave your address. Deadline to register is June 1st by noon.

Here's a link to the yard sale flyer.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Diamond's Candy Shoppe is back, for a limited time!

One of the things that made Nanticoke special for much of my life was Diamond's Candy Shoppe.  A fixture since long before I was born, Diamond's was a place where you could get the best chocolates anywhere, in a dizzying array of shapes - or my favorite, the chunk chocolate, broken into thumb-sized pieces with sharp cleavage planes everywhere.

Diamond's used to be open all the time, or so it seemed; I never had a problem stopping in to pick up some chocolates for my friends any time of the year.  But about four years ago the store began closing temporarily at some times of the year.  At first it was closed during the Summer.  Then it was only open for a few weeks before Christmas and Easter, and maybe Valentine's Day, too.  Then it wasn't open at all.

And then it closed.  Diamond's Candy Shoppe closed a year or so ago.  It had been mostly closed for some time, but when they sold off the chocolate-making equipment, the copper kettles and other such things, everyone knew it was over.  Diamond's was gone for good.

Except it wasn't.

Just before last Christmas I was driving by the store with  a friend who was in town for a visit.  On a whim I drove him past the chocolate store, and there was the proprietor, Mr. Panagakos - unfortunately, locking up and leaving.  I tried again early on Christmas Eve, and the old neon OPEN sign in the window was lit up.  At least, it was lit up when I pulled up and parked, but as I got out of the car I saw Mr. Panagakos locking up again.  Fortunately, this time he saw me, and he quickly reopened and waved me in.  I came in, pulled out all the money in my wallet, and asked him to give me however much chocolate that would buy.

A week or so ago a sign appeared in the window of the old candy store informing interested parties that Mr. Panagakos would be taking orders for Easter candy.  Even better: he is keeping the store open for a few hours each day - 9:00 to 2:00 - up until Easter.  He has a few of his old display cabinets back up, filled with chocolate bunnies and ducks and race cars and a wide variety of Easter Eggs. 

I stopped by today, pulled out a $50 bill I had been saving since Christmas, and used it to buy as much chocolate as I could.

Diamond's Candy Shoppe will be open, I think, for a few more days, or until Mr. Panagakos runs out of candy.  I don't know when - or if - he will be opening again.  If you want to grab a taste of this legendary chocolate, the time is now.  Call ahead to the number shown above if you want to place a special order.  This may be your last chance!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nanticoke Historical Society on Facebook!

The Nanticoke Historical Society has a new website and a Facebook page!

The new Nanticoke Historical Society website:

The Nanticoke Historical Society Facebook page:

You can also still access the old website:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Church closings in Nanticoke

A while back I did a series of posts on the Churches of Nanticoke. Since that time many of those churches have closed - and not just the Catholic churches.

At a Firemen's Breakfast in Honeypot last November I overheard a couple talking about how they used to go to St. George's Episcopal Church - until it closed earlier in the year. I believe the First Presbyterian Church of Nanticoke was reported to be in dire straits financially earlier this year. And it seemed like the steps of the First United Methodist Church went unshoveled for several Sundays this Winter without the snow being trod upon. (These three churches can be seen here.)

Things with the Catholic churches in Nanticoke continue to go according to former Bishop Martino's plan. St. Francis has been closed for some time, since a leaking roof rendered the building unsafe for use, but its formal closure as a church took place more recently. St. Joseph's closed for good several weeks ago. St. Mary's and Holy Trinity have had formal closing ceremonies, although neither of these buildings will be closed in reality: Holy Trinity will be the primary worship site for the consolidated St. Faustina parish, and St. Mary's will serve as the secondary worship site. (The problem of extremely limited parking at the primary worship site has still not been resolved, and the building remains without air conditioning.) In two years, according to Martino's plan, the continued use of the secondary worship site "will be evaluated no later than two years after the consolidation, based on geography, attendance, fiscal realities and the availability of priests. ."

This coming Sunday - tomorrow, as I write this - St. Stanislaus will have its closing ceremony. Like St. Joseph's, this will be a for-real closing, not merely a formality. And, barring a miracle, Holy Child in Sheatown will be closing June 27, bringing the first wave of consolidations in Nanticoke to completion.

It's not just churches that are closing. Diamond's Candy Shoppe is gone. McDonald's Newsstand is gone. WNAK is gone, again, not just from Nanticoke but completely removed from the airwaves. The senior citizens' center - the old post office - is gone, (The steps and front arches were reportedly going to be preserved and incorporated into the new structure going up there, but I believe they were "accidentally" demolished along with the rest of the building. The steps and front entrance to the adjacent Susquehanna Coal building, which was demolished at the same time, were inexplicably preserved for a few days, but as these were of no special architectural significance they were also removed after a while.)

Oddly, one new pizza place has opened up downtown, near the post office, and business is booming.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nanticoke Facebook Groups

If you are on Facebook, there are several groups dedicated to Nanticoke.

St. Mary's Parochial School in Nanticoke, PA was started by Theresa Yankoski Wyzinski as a place where former students of the little red-brick school can reminisce about their schooldays.

I SURVIVED THE NANTICOKE EVACUATION 1987 - Who can forget the day that the fire at Riley Plating reminded us of the importance of Mr. Yastremski's frequent admonition, "Acid into water, NEVER water into acid"? As clouds of chlorine gas spread across the city, everyone in Nanticoke was evacuated until the gas had cleared. Even if tou were somewhere else when it happened, if you were from Nanticoke, you're still a survivor.

Nanticokians Unite!!!!!!!!!!!

John S Fine High School

Sanitary Bakery Pizza

Nanticoke Gang - This one is actually for Nanticoke, Ontario. There are quite a few Nanticokes out there, including one in New York and one in Maryland!