COAL TOWNSHIP — The recently opened Tharptown General Store & Pizzeria harkens back to an earlier time.

The 1,800-square-foot store and pizzeria, located at 335 Center St. in the Tharptown section of Coal Township, is owned by Mark Shingara and Melissa Saleski-Shingara. Think penny candy for children, glass bottles of soda and milk, colorful gumballs and fresh popcorn, and laminated countertops with local newspapers from 90 years ago.

“I wanted to open it to bring back an old-fashioned service,” said Mark Shingara. “Everything today is so cookie cutter and the same. I wanted to create a destination and more than just a store.”

The response from the community has been overwhelming, they said. The Shingaras said they expected to serve 50 orders a day since they opened on Oct. 22. However, they are serving at least 200 orders. Some days, the lines have been wrapped around the store and out the door.

“We really appreciate it,” said Mark Shingara. “We didn’t expect it. We’ve been blessed. You can’t beat it.”

Melissa Saleski-Shingara’s grandmother used to own the lot in the 1960s. It was sold to a sewing company that built a structure there in the 1970s. At some point, the late Dr. Edward V. Twiggar II purchased the property and operated his practice there until at least 20 years ago. It sat vacant for nearly two decades.

The Shingaras purchased the property in 2019, only intending to renovate the apartment upstairs to fund the taxes and mortgage and to use the yard. Melissa’s aunt Millie Permar suggested the store and the Shingaras ran with the idea.

The general store items include penny candy for kids, popcorn, hot roasted peanuts, ice cream and milkshakes, a special blend of coffee developed by Java Mamma in Danville, glass bottles of soda and milk, locally made items, groceries, canned goods, bread, eggs, butter, sodas, snacks, fresh baked goods made by God’s Chuckwagon and Sweet Alley Fudge and a deli.

The pizzeria features a wood-fired oven. The menu has pizza, hot and cold subs, strombolis and salads. They make their own mayonnaise and the buns are imported from Boston.

Melissa Saleski-Shingara said lived near this property her whole life.

“This is important to me because it’s part of the community,” she said. “This is my childhood. This town is my town.”

The store is open six days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The kitchen is open six days a week 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The store and kitchen are not open on Sundays.

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