Extraordinary Stories

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The "The New Guy On The Block" Story

The new P&W Mini Market at the corner of Franklin and Hamilton.
It was an ordinary day.  Spent the morning with my grandson and it's time now for lunch.  We were near the center of the city of Lancaster, PA when I asked Caden what he wanted for lunch.  "How about one of those subs that you got for us a couple of weeks ago.  Aren't we near that place where we got them?"  After a few seconds I knew exactly where he meant.  We did indeed make a stop at a store at the corner of Franklin and Hamilton Streets in the northeast end of the city for some subs a few weeks ago.  The store used to be called G&G Grocery Store and was founded by good friends of mine, Gene and Gwen Kirchner.  Gene was the assistant manager of the Acme Supermarket on North Queen St. when I began my first official part-time job at the age of 16.  We hit it off right away because we were both highly motivated in our work ethic and he loved that in me.  Gene died a couple of years ago and his wife and son, Derek, kept running the store.  Guess it wasn't in the plans for them and they sold the store to Wonelin Ridriguez and his wife.  On the stop Caden and I made a few weeks ago, he was just beginning to make changes to the store, but still made the great subs that G&G always made.  Well, today we pulled into a parking space along the Hamilton St. side and Caden asked if it was the same store.  Outside of the store looked amazing.  Fresh coat of paint on all the woodwork, a big picture of a bottle of punch in the window, colorful new awnings and signs announcing the name of the store and an "Open" sign in the window.  Also noticed the ATM sign by the front door and as I opened it I saw the machine directly to my left.  Neat idea for a small store to make sure the customers had cash to pay for their purchases.  
The new owner of the store.
We walked to the rear of the store and there was Wonelin in his bright red apron and Cincinnati Reds hat with a big smile on his face.  He greeted us and after looking at the small card with the variety of subs on it, we decided on two turkey subs; one for us to share and one for his dad when he came to my house after work to pick up Caden.  Still the same great rolls as in the past and the same shredded lettuce that my wife always loved.  After seeing the size of the roll, Caden realized sharing one would be more than enough for us.  As Wonelin made them he asked about the mayonnaise, lettuce, onions and tomatoes.  He really loaded the roll with a bunch of stuff.  Caden earlier had seen the "Slushie" machine and asked about one of them.  He told him to go help himself so we headed to the machine to make one with half blue and half red ice.  Caden was also impressed that he sold Jolly Rancher sodas.  He nor I had ever seen them before.  As I looked around the store I realized the amount of time, effort and funds that were needed to make this place look as it did.  Shelves were stacked with just about everything you would expect in a small corner grocery store.  Many items were geared towards a variety of different nationalities which are present in the city neighborhood.  This guy and his wife really did their homework!  
Wonelin waits on another customer at the front of his store.
He finished our sandwiches by adding the salt and pepper and wrapping them in foil.  His wife pointed out which one was cut in half and which half had the onions on for me.  We walked with him to the front to pay and realized how neat a store this really was.  All around the area where you paid were plastic bins with a huge variety of candy offerings.  Caden was most impressed with the three bills displayed in his cabinet.  A $1, $5 and the "$1,000,000,000" were displayed showing the first of each that he got in payment.  Caden said he never saw a one million dollar bill before and I explained to him that he never will see another either, since it isn't real.  "Are you allowed to do that?" he wanted to know.  I responded, "Most everyone knows they aren't real and now you do too.  If you can pay for something with one of them, than whoever takes it as payment deserves to be taken."  We both thanked he and his wife and told them we'd return in the near future for more sandwiches.  G&G subs were my all-time favorite subs and now I have a new favorite; the P&W sub.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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