2020 turned out to be a tough year for the entertainment and dining industry, with pandemic regulations limiting business or causing venues to cancel it altogether.
Those who could, however, made the best of out of what they had, and The Times-Tribune was there to shine a light on the area’s eateries, entertainers, inspirations and much more.
Scranton is real
An Instagram post showed the world that Scranton is indeed a real place and not just the figment of “The Office’s” imagination. In May, a post that named Scranton as the worst city in Pennsylvania shocked many social media users who had thought it was a fictional place. Scranton ended up becoming a trending topic on Twitter as a result of people’s amazed responses to learning the truth.
Green zone beauty
After months of staying closed because of COVID-19 restrictions, salons and barbershops reopened in June. The Hey, Beautiful column broke down the dos, don’ts and other details of what Pennsylvania’s Green Phase meant for these businesses and their customers.
‘Tiger King’ has Scranton connection
With the world talking about the “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” docuseries that debuted on Netflix in March, the Pages from the Past blog took a look back at Scranton’s connection to the show’s focus, big cat enthusiast Joe Schreibvogel, aka Joe Exotic. In 2008, endangered Indochinese tigers Ivan and Alea took up residence at Genesis Wildlife Center in Nay Aug Park. G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma — operated by Schreibvogel — had donated the cubs.
Terra Preta Prime closes
After shutting down temporarily in March because of the pandemic, downtown Scranton eatery Terra Preta Prime announced in May that it would not reopen. The business had formed from the 2018 merger of two city restaurants, Terra Preta and Carl’s Prime, and was just one of many local restaurants that felt the impact of dining-related coronavirus restrictions.
Everything Bagel Bake a hit
Everyone must love brunch, because this Local Flavor: Recipes We Love feature from September proved immensely popular among readers. The dish came from Carbondale resident McKensie Curnow, who transformed a recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, “Cravings: Hungry for More,” into something all her own.
Mother’s Day section spotlights deserving mom
The Sunday Times’ annual Mother’s Day edition in May once again spotlighted an outstanding local mom: Laflin resident and registered nurse Marissa Marino Budzyn. She remained a source of strength for her young daughter, Vivienne Budzyn, as the toddler fought leukemia. “Obviously, Vivienne was close with her mom before this whole thing started, but since the treatments, Vivienne has looked at Marissa for everything,” said Vince Budzyn, Marissa’s husband. “And Marissa stepped up … and she takes care of her and all her needs.” The story accompanied a special section featuring more than 800 photos of local moms and their kids.
Scanlan’s remains a popular spot
In business for more than 50 years, P.J. Scanlan’s has a reputation for homemade comfort food. Readers’ responses to the Chef’s Table’s spotlight of the downtown Scranton restaurant in November showed just how popular the eatery is. And like lots of other local eateries, it has continued a long legacy and persevered in tough times.
The Lounge carries on legacy
Another popular Chef’s Table spotlight came in June and from West Scranton, where the Lounge, originally called Spindler’s Lounge, serves typical bar fare in a relaxed setting. Since co-founder George Spindler’s death in July 2019, his family has kept his memory alive as it keeps the business going.
Scranton native stars in TV movie
In November, Scranton native Quinn Hemphill shared her experience of nabbing an acting gig during her first month in the business. Now living in Los Angeles, Hemphill starred in “Killer Competition,” which premiered last month on Lifetime Movie Network. An alumna of Scranton High School, where she represented the school as Miss Knight, Hemphill earned a bachelor’s degree in acting from Syracuse University.
Musician Jerry Hludzik dies
Northeast Pennsylvania native Jerry Hludzik left behind a musical legacy in the region when he died in April. Hludzik, who grew up in Jeddo, belonged to the band the Buoys, whose 1970 song “Timothy” reached No. 15 on the U.S. Billboard charts. He also was part of the Jerry-Kelly Band (alongside Bill Kelly) and the group Dakota, which toured with Queen. Hludzik also produced a national Top 10 hit for another NEPA native, Jimmy Harnen.