PITTSTON — Francine Arcaro-Branas has been involved in the food industry her entire life. Now, she’s branching off on her own.
Arcaro-Branas, 39, recently opened Arcaro’s the Next Generation at 47 N. Main St., where Fuji Sushi was formerly located.
Arcaro’s The Next Generation opened its doors Thursday and offered free pizza slices to eat-in customers only. Arcaro-Branas said it was busy until the end of the night.
“We filled the place all day long,” she said. “It never emptied out. We were at maximum capacity until 10:00. It was actually unbelievable.”
During lunch time Friday, the business’ official opening day, the kitchen staff was backed up on orders and the dining room had a lot of customers.
Arcaro-Branas said the challenge of ppening day was everyone learning on the go.
“There’s a lot of little bumps and hills we’re going over, but that’s expected,” she said. “We just need to come up with a game plan and get into a rhythm.”
Arcaro-Branas comes from a family that has owned and operated restaurants all over Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
“My family has done it and my parents have done this before I was born,” she said. “It’s just in the blood.”
Restaurants owned by her family include Arcaro and Genell in Old Forge, Arcaro’s Pizza in Scranton and Basil Leaf in Montrose.
Members of her family have also owned Theresa Ann’s in Old Forge, Skyliner Diner in Dupont, and Chich Arcaro’s in Clarks Summit, all of which have since closed.
The Pittston resident said her restaurant is not a continuation of her family’s business, but rather her own establishment.
“It’s similar, just smaller,” she said. “I’ve been doing this forever and working for everyone else.”
On the menu at Arcaro’s The Next Generation are Italian foods such as Old Forge style pizza, round pizza, stromboli, cheesesteaks, salads, hoagies, burgers, wings and calzones.
Operation hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Opening her own restaurant wasn’t just Arcaro-Branas’ dream, but also a dream of her late husband Jeff Branas, who died in a tragic accident this past summer.
“Our kids are old — my baby is 17 and we have five kids,” she said. “I didn’t know what else to do with myself so I opened a restaurant. Other people want to sit down and miss them, but you have to move on and you have to live. It was both of our dreams.”
Arcaro-Branas’ five children, Rachael, 24; Aaron, 23; Sabrina, 20; Ali, 19; and Julianna, 17, all help with the restaurant in some capacity.
She said one of the reasons for opening a restaurant in Pittston is because of how wonderful the people were after Jeff’s passing.
“After Jeff had died, everybody was so nice and so supportive,” she said. “I thought, ‘you know what, I’d like to be more involved here.’”
The process of opening the restaurant began Jan. 1 and renovating the business space included redoing the kitchen, putting in a new floor and installing new equipment.
With so many pizza places in Greater Pittston, Arcaro-Branas said she’s not looking to take business away from anyone.
“I want it to stick out, but I don’t want to be better than everybody’s pizza,” she said. “Pizza is my favorite thing. DeMuro’s is one of my favorite pizzas and they’re right in my back alley. I don’t want to put anyone out or anything. I’m just offering something different.”