They call it the Last Supper.
On Sunday, Elio and Nina Serpico, owners of Palumbo’s Pizza in Stroudsburg, will host a dinner party with their kids, family and friends shortly after the restaurant closes, but this time for good.
“This is my second home. I grew up here,” said their daughter, Jessica Serpico-Gwiazdowski, who shared how she and her sisters, Diane, Susie and Christina, learned to knead pizza dough while their father threw it in the air.
New plans in place for Palumbo’s
The pizzeria, along with Smokin’ Joe’s Tobacco Shop, is leaving the site on North Third Street on February 20.
The new tenant, BioSpectra (a pharmaceutical company that manufactures cGMP ingredients and biological vaccines), is renovating the mall and converting it into a warehouse and distribution center.
“Depending on how the zoning changes, we hope to eventually locate our new lab and packing center in the former Ames building,” said Rick Mutchler, company president.
A dialysis center, Fresenius Kidney Care Stroudsburg, will remain on the property.
Meanwhile, Elio and Nina say they hope to move their shop to Dunkin’ Donuts at 246 N. Courtland St., East Stroudsburg.
Food made with love
The Serpicos took over Palumbo’s from its former owners in 1982. But the family’s adventure in the pizza business began in the late 1960s.
Nina met Elio in 1968 while vacationing in Monte di Procida, a small province outside of Naples, Italy.
It was love at first sight, and a few days before Nina returned to the United States, they were married.
“I was saying goodbye (to my new husband) at the airport,” Nina recalled.
Elio emigrated to America months later (he spoke no English, his daughter notes) and started working at his uncle’s restaurant, Pizza Town USA in New Jersey.
After learning the ropes, Elio and his family moved to the Poconos in 1978 and he opened Brother Bruno’s in the old Kmart (now the site of GIANT Food Stores in East Stroudsburg).
Years later, when the former owners of Palumbo’s asked him to take over, he was over the moon.
Known for their chewy crust and secret sauce, the Serpicos opened a second Palumbo’s (290 Franz Drive, Bartonsville) in 2009.
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On a recent afternoon – four days before the official shutdown – loyal foodies were curious about the new plan as they grabbed their takeout or sat down for a tasty slice.
“A lot of customers ask us where we are going. They want to follow us,” Nina said.
The outpouring of support on their Facebook page was equally enthusiastic – over 90 people left comments and shared the news.
“We’ve been going to pizza since she’s been here – it’s been for me since I was 10. My sons go to my husband’s garlic knots and rice balls, and Bartonsville is the other side of the universe – I’m very sad,” Holley wrote. Kearns.
“Omg that’s awful. We used to go there every Friday when I was a kid,” added Llr Amanda Tranotti-Benfer.
They also had visits from famous fans such as Kenny G, Ja Rule and Pat Benatar and several football players that Elio’s Italy team played with in the ball.
“My husband was like, ‘Hey, you played against us’, because he loves football,” Nina said.
But it’s the customers they’ve come to know by first name and the memories of seeing their daughter kicking up pizza dust in the back of the kitchen that make the Serpicos smile.
“I was showing my dad the comments and he had tears in his eyes,” Serpico-Gwiazdowski said. “He said to me, ‘You don’t even realize the effect we’ve had on people all these years. “”
Micaela Hood is a reporter for the Pocono Record and the USA TODAY Mid-Atlantic Region reporting team. Contact her at [email protected]