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The Ambiance of Washington Boulevard

Tip of my Webb Weekly cap with the American Flag on the side to Mr. George Hutchinson. The local real estate developer, businessman, and entrepreneur has a knack for making things better and more aesthetically appealing than he found them. He increases property value in whatever neighborhood he invests in.

What triggered my thinking is what he has done with the former eyesore that was Benjie’s Burgers, and formally the site of Williamsport’s first Wendy’s franchise. 

George and his gang from Hutchinson Development now have a bright and shiny new Dollar General store at this location. Not only does it begin to clean up the neighborhood, it’s a practical answer to something much needed — a quick, inexpensive stop for everyday items located basically on the Lycoming College campus.

I have known George for a long time; he is hard-working and task-oriented. He has an amazing mind for building and renovation. His construction professionals have the ability to make old buildings look new, and new buildings fit the neighborhood. My only hope is he purchases the rest of the block, especially the Stroehmann’s building. What a shame that something once so prominent and proud now looks the way it does.

I can remember the smell of the fresh-baked bread as it filled the air. This emanating from the tallest building on Washington Boulevard, which was always teeming with life and action. Maybe George can come up with a great idea to return the grand old building to its glory and usefulness.

Remembering Stroehmann’s baking now has got me thinking about all the great culinary flavors on Washington Boulevard. It’s one of my favorite streets to travel. So much can be found on such a short stretch of blacktop.

First up is the Brandon Café. They have some of the best hoagies and cosmos in town. What a great place to stop for a cold beverage and a quick bite or just to have a couple of adult beverages. I remember picking my Great Uncle Ed up there years ago and enjoying a beer with him. 

Just down the street is New China Royal. They have fantastic Chinese food made fresh to order for takeout or delivery.

Carl Diparlo and his family at Tony’s Delicatessen are a Boulevard fixture. Great folks providing great food with that old-fashioned feel of the neighborhood market. The nostalgic smell of the wood smoke and whatever they’re making can be recognized for blocks. This always makes me hungry for all those great Tony’s products.

My next stop just down the street is Roy’s Bakery. The Berninger family has been on the Boulevard for 73 years! What holiday would be complete without the familiar shapes of their old-fashioned sugar cookies? Their simple white-on-white cake is legendary, and don’t forget the cupcakes. Again, it’s a walk back in time when you step in the shop. Can you imagine just how many sugar cookies have been baked at this location? If what you are craving isn’t in the case, they will bake it for you, including the perfect birthday or wedding cake.

On the opposite side of the street, we’ve got The Sticky Elbow. This is one of my favorite places to eat. So many different culinary choices and dishes come together at one location. Tip of my chef’s hat to Jason Matty for making even their simple house salad amazing. Don’t be afraid to try something new while you’re there; you won’t be disappointed. My go-to is the Shaggy Roll. The salmon, or the fresh fish special of the month. The Cobb Salad is outstanding. 

Of course, on that side of the street, we’ve got Williamsport area’s first-ever Burger King. Al Clapps and his family provided the home of the Whopper many moons ago. Flame-broiled has been on the Blvd. for over four decades. I think back to my trips to this location when I was very young. 

Do you remember what was there prior to BK? Yes, it was Caroll’s; they made good burgers, but what I remember most is the Looney Toon glasses. I believe I still have Foghorn Leghorn.

A few doors down, 505 now occupies where Joey’s and the Prato family were fixtures forever. Joey’s cheesesteaks are legendary around the world. 505 is a great place to stop for a cold beverage, a quick snack, or a great meal. The Vollman family, who also owns Rivals, does a great job.

Rounding things out on that short stretch of flavor town Boulevard style is the Sawhorse Cafe, which is a great quick stop for breakfast or lunch. The Darrow family provides you great home cooking. Quick and easy without the cleanup, and they price everything very affordably.

Well, all this talking about food has made me hungry. I’m going to head over to the Boulevard and grab a bite. Bon appetite!

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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