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History of Freeland, Pa.
Restaurants, soda fountains, hangouts

What's on this page:
  • 20th-century (and a few 21st-century) restaurants
  • Restaurants listed in directories, 1900-1940
More on related pages:

Note: This is an old page, to be updated. Please send updates and corrections!

Itís hard to clearly separate bars from restaurants, because thereís so much overlap between them. Yet in the past it has seemed sensible to have separate pages for bars and restaurants. Now I'm rethinking that, so changes may be coming to this section. Many restaurants are just restaurants, whether or not they serve alcoholic drinks. Many bars are just bars, although many also serve some food, even if only snacks or a limited selection of bar food. Weíve also had many bars in Freeland that served meals, usually cooked by women in the family. During Prohibition, meals and non-alcoholic drinks were mainly how these places stayed in business, and meals continued to be served in many bars later. So the lines are not clear-cut, and I put these businesses on one page or the other mostly depending on how they were categorized in directories or in their own ads. For this reason, whether youíre on the Saloons and Bars page or the Restaurants page, please check out the other one, too! As I said, there may be some reorganization of these restaurant/bar pages later.

Amentler's - 457 Ridge Street (Rocco Amentler, proprietor), merchant, restaurant (age 28 in 1940 Census)

Balas Distributing - East South Street (Freeland/White Haven Highway) (from 1986 St. Casimir's booklet via Ed Merrick)

Belekanich's - 409 Ridge St. (Anna Belekanich, proprietor) (age 32 in 1940 Census)

Bonner's Restaurant - 420 Centre Street (John and Bryan Bonner, proprietors) (ages 36 and 41 in 1940 Census)

Tommy Bzdil's BBQ Restaurant - 452 Centre St. (Tom Bzdil, Sr., proprietor)

Cheppa's - 418 Centre Street, previously located at 457 Ridge Street (John Cheppa, proprietor) (From Ed Cheppa: When Ed's parents decided to move their business to 418 Centre, they bought that building and extensive renovations were made to it. The mines were slow at this time during the Depression, just working a few days a week, and so a number of John's friends were available to help dig out a basement beneath the first floor, with picks, shovels and wheelbarrows. They put in a concrete block foundation, poured a concrete basement floor, added steel beams to support the upper floors, and substantial renovations were made to all three upper floors. A two-car garage was added at the back of the lot, now gone. The Cheppas moved in during spring 1933. After the repeal of Prohibition, "taverns" that could only sell near-beer now had the opportunity to apply for liquor licenses, but they had to show that they could accommodate up to 40 diners in order to get a full license; otherwise, could only get a beer license. Cheppa's got the full license. Some of the taverns also sponsored summer picnics at one of the local groves, and Cheppa's did this, too.)

Chonko's Cigars - 336 Centre St., between Carbon & Luzerne Streets (George "Happy" Chonko, proprietor)

The Coffee Pot, at 630 Centre around 1940 The Coffee Pot - 529 Centre St. (Gus Speal, proprietor) - First located at 615 Centre; in 1940 they were at 630 Centre (see sign in this photo), next to Fairchild's Luncheonette, what would later be Woodie's; finally they moved to 529, near the Refowich Theater.
(From Bill Feissner: The Gus Speal business referred to was in the Gus Speal building and was known as "The Coffee Pot". It was run by Chris Speal, her maiden name. She later married Tom Fedorshak, and they both ran it till closing and they moved to Florida.)
(From Scott Donaldson, Gus's grandson, writing from Scotland: Itís actually spelt Speal not Spiel. The same Gus Speal that donated the Little League pitch to the town. He was my maternal grandfather & Chris was my aunt. So, Gus Speal (originally Speliotis or Spiliotis , not sure) was an immigrant from Greece via Canada. He was married to Georgina (nee Turnbull) who originally hailed from Dundee, Scotland. He died in 1956, she died in 1984 - both are buried in the local cemetary apparently, along with Georgina's mother who must have come to live with them? Gus & Georgina had 5 children - George, Chris, Vrula (my mother), Alex & Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the only one of those left alive. All were brought up helping out in the Coffee Pot (we have a suspicion that the cafe moved premises at one point but I would need to try to check that) but all but Chris left the town & indeed the State in adulthood. As far as I know the family moved to Freeland mid-1920s & the restaurant was I believe still operating in the '80s. Gus was very civic minded & donated the land for the Little League field.)

Site of Dot's Restaurant Cozy Corner - Ridge & North (?) Streets, pizzeria, also sold drinks.

Cunningham's Restaurant - Centre St., between Main & South Streets

Dot's Restaurant - Centre St., between South & Luzerne Streets (Dot Myers, proprietor). Courtesy of the Freeland Historical Society, here is an old menu from Dot's.

Dot's menu Dot's menu Dot's menu Dot's menu

Eddie's Bar and Restaurant
- 421 Centre St. (1975-1989) (Eddie Barna, proprietor) (From Bill Feissner: Carcia's Bar was sold to Ed Barna and became Eddie's Bar. He bought the Eagles next door and made a large dining room out of it. He then retired and sold it to Jackie and Leanne Kochie, which is now The Other Side.) (From Eddie Barna: Gauzís Furniture Store at 423 Centre Street was in operation through the mid-1940s. The Eagles bought the building in the late 1940ís and remodeled it for their Club, which they used until 1984. I bought it and used the first floor for my main dining room and the second floor was used for private parties. It is currently the Other Side Bar & Restaurant.)

Fairchild's Luncheonette, later Woodie's Fairchild's Luncheonette - 628 Centre St. (Elwood Fairchild, proprietor), merchant, confectionery; Howard Fairchild, 924 Walnut St., chef of confectionery (ages 26 and 45 in 1940 Census) - Sold to Elwood Whitehead in 1950, see under Woodie's, below.

Fairchild's News Stand - 712 Centre St. (Walter Fairchild, proprietor) (age 49 in 1940 Census)

Famalette's Pizza - 542 Centre St. (Anthony Famalette, proprietor) (From Eddie Barna: In the building north of Balon's Bar, (the Gallagher building, I think ...), there was a photographer during the late 40's and early 50's. I don't remember the name, but maybe one of your readers will remember. After this business closed, Tony Famalette opened a pizzeria and was there for a couple of years. Some may remember the heat from the pizza oven causing the wall to push out towards Main Street.)

Feist Cigars - 929 Washington St. (Russell Feist, proprietor), cigar maker, own place (age 45 in 1940 Census)

Gunning's Restaurant - 513 Centre St. (Patrick Gunning, proprietor and waiter) (age 60 in 1940 Census)

Guzzi's Restaurant - 831 South St. (Anthony Guzzi, proprietor) merchant, restaurant (age 48 in 1940 Census) (CT: in city directory listed at 831 South St. - ??)

Karpowich's Restaurant - 329 Centre St. (Edward Karpowich, proprietor and waiter) (age 36 in 1940 Census) This was the former site of Joseph Greshko's restaurant and bar.

Learn's Lunch and Soda Fountain - 722 Centre St. (Harvey "Pop" Learn, proprietor) (From Beth Learn: My cousin was given a xerox of an article with the headline: "Recall 'Pop' Learn's?" Here's the first few paragraphs, word for word: Freelanders, remember Harvey "Pop" Learn's Lunch and Soda Fountain at 722 Centre St.? The site is now the Welsh building. "Pop" Learn's was the mecca in the mid and late thirties as the "popular hangout" for Freeland High students and basketball players -- everyone went to "Pop" Learn's."  Pop Learn was probably my Dad's Dad or my Grandfather Harvey Simon Learn. I was not aware that he had such a mecca but that would coincide with my Dad in HS etc.)

Marion's Restaurant - Centre St. between Carbon and Luzerne streets (From Bill Feissner: Marion's Restaurant became Jabo's Bar, then was sold by Jabo to an Indian named Mushie, and became the Rustic Lounge.)

Mehales' Restaurant - 449 Ridge St. (John Mehales, proprietor) merchant, restaurant (age 49 in 1940 Census)

Miskevich's Restaurant - 360 Ridge St. (William Miskevich) merchant, restaurant (age 46 in 1940 Census)

Mischissen's Restaurant - 402 Centre St. (Michael Mischissen, proprietor) merchant, restaurant, home at 443 Ridge St. (age 50 in 1940 Census)

Mulhearn's Restaurant & Bar - 637 Centre St. (Joseph L. Mulhearn) employer, restaurant (1940 Census)

Myers Cigars - 436 Centre Street (John Myers, proprietor) - with Tom Bzdil? - cigar store (age 41 in 1940 Census)

Noke's - Centre St. (Formerly Woodie's; closed in 2009? These photos show that many of the existing fixtures from Woodie's were still in use by Noke's.)

Noke's Noke's Noke's Noke's

Kostick's and North Side Pizzeria Northside Pizzeria - 326 Centre St., and also previously at 355 Centre St. (From Ed Merrick: This photo shows Kostick's Bar and Grill (left) and the North-Side Pizzeria at 355 Centre Street, where our grocery store used to be, on February 1, 1966.)

Northside Restaurant - Centre St., between Luzerne & South Streets

Remak's Restaurant - 709 Main St. (John Remak, proprietor) (From E. Merrick: "John Remak (my uncle), proprietor. My grandfather, Mike Remak, started this business. Early on, he also distributed beer from a horse-drawn wagon. My grandfather also had two stores-on-wheels, which were driven by my dad, Tony Merrick, and my uncles, Mickey and George.")

Sorrento's Russell's Ice Cream Shop - Centre St., between Front & Main Streets

William Selvestrovich - 731 Front Street, proprietor, employer, restaurant (age 48 in 1940 Census)

Sophie's Luncheonette - 442 Centre St., between South & Luzerne Streets (Sophie Karpowich, proprietor; now the Northside Restaurant)

Sorrento's Restaurant & Pizzeria - 462 Centre St., a longtime local favorite.

Subway - Centre and South Streets, with Nocchi's Pharmacy

The Sugar Bowl (Gus Stenopolis?) - Centre St., between Main & South Streets

Timesquare - Centre St., near the Borough Building (Vic Piazzi, proprietor) (From Ann Swankowski: Getting to my father's store. I believe he opened it in the early forties. It was called TIMESQUARE. It was originally located below Joe Rish's Barber shop and the Daddy purchased the building on the corner (directly across from the ELKS) He had the store downstairs and made an apt. upstairs for his brother and his wife. The store was a great hangout for all the men.  He sold candy and cigars, but it was known as a cigar store, so whatever else they sold I really don't remember. They did a lot of politicking there and when television first came out he had one in the window. People would go uptown and stand outside to watch TV. As far as I remember it was a popular place and a great hangout. It was not open during the day. Daddy was paymaster at Jeddo Highland Coal Co. He would open up after he had his supper until about midnight.)

Site of Doc Welsh's Ursta's - 451 Ridge St. (John Ursta, proprietor) merchant, restaurant (age 54 in 1940 Census)

Doc Welsh's - 722 Centre St. (Cornelius Welsh, proprietor) (From Ed Merrick: "The Largest and Most Expensive Soda Fountain in Freeland." I suspect they meant that the soda fountain equipment, and not the ice cream sodas, was the most expensive in Freeland.)

Woodie's grand opening, 1950 ad Elwood Elwood Pal Whitehead at Woodie's Woodie's Fountain and Luncheonette - 632 Centre St. (From Ed Merrick: Brothers Woodie and Pal (Elwood and Robert) Whitehead, proprietors; head waitress was Carmelita Ricotta; "Mom" Dietrich was the cook -- Photo of Pal at Woodie's was taken by Ed) (Dolly Madison Ice Cream, Fisher's Homemade Chocolate, Novelties ('52 Minamek)); ("Where friends meet to eat." ('53 Minamek)). (See the photos of Noke's, above.)

4 friends at the new Woodie's, 9-2019 Woodie's - 632 Centre St. - Woodie's reborn! Extensively renovated, menu expanded, opened in 2019. The photo at right shows Carol Jones (far right in photo) and three of her friends, who I enjoyed a good meal with at Woodie's in September 2019.

Yeskevich's Restaurant - 449 Centre St. (Magdelina Yeskevich, proprietor), merchant, restaurant (age 43 in 1940 Census) (CT: Magdalena in city directory)

[Thanks to Jack Polachak, Beth Learn, Ed Merrick, Bill Feissner, Eddie Barna, Ann Swankowski for additions and corrections. I or my brother Steve took the Sorrento's photo at top left and a number of others on this page. Photos contributed by others: Balon's Bar interior from Frank Balon, Genie Boyle's from Bill Smith, Kostick's and Northside Pizzeria from Ed Merrick, Procopio's from John Zubach, and Remak's from Nancy Penn.]

Information from the 1940 Federal Census come to us courtesy of Ed Merrick. In some instances, it's not clear whether the individual is the owner/proprietor of the store or an employee, but we'll list them here. Some of the addresses from the 1940 Census might be home addresses rather than business addresses. He adds: The handwriting was hard to decipher in many instances, and so corrections are welcome. Many of the businesses have been in the same family for years, and so the first names may differ in earlier or later years.

Restaurants listed in directories 1900-1940

1900-1901 city directory
Restaurants in business listings:
DePierro Bros., restaurant, Ridge
Maloy, James J., restaurant and saloon, 53 Centre
Rugens, John, saloon and restaurant, 74 Centre
Shambora, Peter, saloon and restaurant, 162 Centre

1917 telephone directory
Restaurants in general listings:
Dougherty, W. M. - 726 N. Centre

1921-22 city directory
Restaurants in business listings:
Mulhearn, Joseph L. Ė 637 Centre

1928-29 city directory
Restaurants and lunch rooms in business listings:
Coffee Pot, 615 Centre
Mulhearn, Joseph L., 637 Centre

1940 city directory
Restaurants in business listings:
Amentler, Jno. F. - 725 Main
Amentler, Rocco T. - 457 Ridge
Balon, Frank - 536 Centre
Belekanich, Anna - 409 Ridge
Boner, Jno. - 420 Centre
Boyle, Eugene C. - 700 Main
Brueningsen, Harold - Main, Upper Lehigh
Cunningham, Anna - 336 Centre
Cheppa, Jno. - 418 Centre
Danko, Jno. M. - 827 South
Defalco, Frank - 722 South
Grega, Geo. A. - 525 Fern
Grohowski, Michl. - 302 Washington
Gunning's Restaurant - 513 Centre
Guzzi, Anthony - 831 South
Kaminsky, Carl - 1115 Birkbeck
Karpowich, Edw. - 329 Centre
Kozel, Albian T. - 527 Centre
Kuklis, Cath. - 133 Birkbeck
Learn, Harvey - 722 Centre
Machella, Jno. J. - 302 Centre
Mattis, Jno. E. - 360 Centre
Mehale, Jno. J. - 449 Ridge
Mischissin, Michl. - 402 Centre
Mulhearn, Jos. L. - 637 Centre
Myers, Dorothy M. - 436 Centre
Nowak, Jno. - 1121 Birkbeck
Nowak, Jos. K. - 977 Walnut
Nowak, Stanley J. - 807 Schwabe
Procopio, Salvatore R. - 520 Ridge
Ravina, Jos. S. - 413 Centre
Remak, Michl. - 709 Main
Selvestrovich, Wm. - 729 Front
Sledwesky, Ignatz - 715 South
Speal, Gus - 630 Centre
Turri, Angelo - 229 Ridge
Urenovitch, Victoria - 443 Centre
Ursta, Jno. - 451 Ridge
Yeskewich, Magdalena D. - 442 Centre
Zike, Julius J. - 1133 Walnut

Site contructed by C. Tancin.
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