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New family-owned restaurant opens after COVID-related delays

The foundation of the old Moosic Diner in Lackawanna County is still standing, but something new sits on top of it.

MOOSIC, Pa. — "It's a mom-and-pop shop with a drive-thru." That's how owner Rick Rinaldi describes his family's new restaurant, Cucina Rinaldi.

The new owners of the place on Birney Avenue in Moosic are trying to preserve the history of the classic diner that stood here for decades, while also giving it a modern spin.

But it took longer than anticipated to get here.

"Oh, it's like a breath of fresh air, it's great. I mean, don't get me wrong, the hard work begins now, but it's a different kind of hard work. This is pleasurable, you're dealing with customers, you're not climbing a ladder putting stones up," said Rinaldi.

Rinaldi hoped to have the place open more than a year ago. 

But the pandemic had other plans, in the form of material shortages, shipping delays, and high prices. 

"Yeah, we've been driving by now for about a year waiting for it to open. We always go to the other restaurant, so we've been waiting for this to open for a while," said Brooke Granko of Old Forge.

The Rinaldi family also owns a sit-down restaurant in Old Forge, but Cucina Rinaldi will be more of a fast-paced, grab-and-go cafe. They hope the spot on Birney Avenue will be a prime location since it sits right in the middle of three major roads.

"I'm always driving by here all the time, and it's nice to have a place just to go and eat and hang out with friends," said Ava Aversa of Old Forge.

Rinaldi hopes customers are looking to support small businesses after seeing so many struggle.

"You go up the street, the line at Dunkin Donuts for a coffee is huge. At Starbucks, it's huge. We're a mom-and-pop shop with the same items trying to compete with that. That's really our purpose, to give them a family feel."

And that family feel extends to everything they do and make, including the coffee.

The owners tried a bunch of big-name coffee brands..

"But we tried a local roaster from here, Damiani, he's out of La Plume. He's a very small roaster. The guy who buys it and roasts it also delivers it. And we went with that one," said Rinaldi.

This is a soft opening; the owners hope to continue adding new items in the weeks ahead.

For more information and the restaurant's hours, click here.