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More on Gino’s: It’s all about the people and the food

But first, an apology: I promised that this post would appear today, and appear it will. But it’s quite late in the day, and now I can tell you why. We were working furiously to put together this awesome look at the new Census information for York County, which of course I think should interest readers of this blog! Please go check it out, and forgive the late hour of this awesome Gino’s recap!

Now, about Gino’s. I gave you a sneak peek at some of the fun in Monday’s post. (If you haven’t seen that yet, please go take a look!) Today, I’ve got tons more to share, plus even more memories of when Gino’s was in the York area. I’d love it if you’d read to the end… there is SO MUCH cool stuff here!

In fact, as I started writing, I realized I have even more to share than one extra-long post can hold, so you’ll have to check back next Wednesday, too.

Hubby and me chatting with Audrey Contres of York, a former Gino’s employee, at Sunday’s meetup; photo by Keith Swango.

Starting out with some memories, Mark Heinrich writes, “‘Feelin’ Good at Gino’s,’ that was their advertising slogan. You could visit one of three of the restaurants in York. Charter buses were also welcomed from the highway. I remember working there when they put in the drive-thru window. That 1st winter, all that cold air made the girls who worked the counter hate opening that new window. The freezers where the food was kept also made you ‘blow smoke’ from the chill of the air. I worked there for just over a year and was glad to finally take that apron off.”

Tess says, “I used to work at a Gino’s in B’more when I was in high school. Hamburgers were 22 cents and a cheeseburger was 27 cents – odd, I know. Gino’s did sell Kentucky Fried Chicken. While you were at work, you could eat whatever you wanted, so the grill guys (girls did not work the grill back then) had a contest to see who could eat the most chicken – both guys ate an entire barrel of chicken! Our restaurant was open until 1:00 am on Friday and Saturday nights, and I would work until closing on one of those nights. After clean up, we would head to an all-night donut shop before heading home. Those were some good memories.”

Jim Staub, who you might remember is trying to organize a Gino’s employee reunion, writes: “I remember getting chicken as a kid, say late 60s, from the Gino’s on East Market St. for picnics at the Meadowbrook Swim Club (in Saginaw?). Gino’s had the KFC franchise for the PA and MD areas.” Jim, by the way, mentioned that based on previous posts and my column in our print Your News edition, he’s already received 20 to 25 responses to a possible reunion. “Most were people who worked at one of the three York Gino’s in the 60s and very early 70s. I only worked with about 2 of the responders. I worked at the East Market St and Springwood Rd stores from sometime in 1973 to sometime in 1983.” I’ve been in touch with Jim about some ways to get an even larger reunion together, so please stay tuned for more info on that front, too!

Keith Swango of Ewing, N.J., is, as I mentioned, the unofficial Gino’s photographer and an amazing fan. (You should join his Facebook group, Everybody Goes to Gino’s, of course based on the famous jingle. Which, by the way, they PLAY at the King of Prussia restaurant! It’s awesome!) Keith also worked for Gino’s, in the early ’70s. (Not in York County!) All of the photos in today’s post were taken by Keith, who graciously sent them to me. You should definitely check out his photography business website at There’s a whole section of Gino’s photos!

Jim Vasold writes, “In my early years I frequented all the Baltimore Gino establishments! Thanks & what a joy it was to meet Mr Marchetti at the York Sports night the other year!”

Now THAT brings up a funny story. “Mr. Marchetti” – the Gino of Gino’s fame – was AT the King of Prussia Gino’s on Sunday, but he was leaving, apparently, just as I walked in! I missed him by moments. He is 84 years old and still comes to the restaurant most days.

Sue Jiron, who works at the King of Prussia Gino’s as the crew leader, and who was amazingly kind and friendly while we visited, said of Gino, “The man is unbelievable. He works every day. He comes back and does the fries.” Gino commutes from West Chester, where he lives.

Sunday, he was signing autographs, including one for my new friends Richard and Audrey Contres of York. Dick Contres, 77, worked at all three of York County’s Gino’s locations. In next Wednesday’s post, you’ll get to read a bunch more of Dick’s memories, courtesy of my husband, who took great notes for me. Another highlight next week: How the current Gino’s menu is different than you might remember it!

Back to some Gino’s thoughts from the past, Pam Lee writes, “My husband Rick Lee (a YDR writer) and I met at Gino’s in 1972. He cooked the Kentucky Fried Chicken and I worked the counter in my red and white striped dress. We have fond memories of the place and the many friends we made there. Rick actually started in the original building next to Hills. At that time there was no seating in the place and the fries were fresh cut. They then built the new place behind the old one and tore down the original, probably around 1970. I started in the new building along with several friends from high school. My pay was $1.50/hr. I wonder if they will have any of the original items like the Gino Giant or strawberry milkshakes.”

Pam (and Rick!) will be happy to hear that they do have the Gino Giant and chocolate, vanilla or strawberry milkshakes. My husband got a Giant and a vanilla shake and said it was very good!

Patricia Riccio had actually told me last month that Pam and Rick met at Gino’s, and I hadn’t gotten around to asking Rick about it until just last week. Patricia wrote, “I’ve been following the articles in the paper concerning the Gino’s that used to sit where Perkins is now. … Gino’s and Huntley’s (across from Eastern Market) were the only two fast-food restaurants in the early days that I recall. When teenagers, my friend and I wanted to work at Gino’s. We were only 14 and begged Floyd Wise, the manager at that time, for a job. He told us he when we turned 15 he would hire us, and he did. I believe the name of the district manager at that time was Bob Custer. I have to say I loved that job. Being a people person, I got to meet many, many people. Hills Department Store was beside Gino’s at the time and many employees would stop in for lunch. We had our ‘regulars’ and knew their orders by heart. When I worked there (early 70s), they sold Gino Giants (the best; the equivalent of a Big Mac), Jumbo Ginos, and Kentucky Fried Chicken (‘Specials’, ‘Dinners’, Buckets, and Barrels). Also, french fries, apple pies, soda, and milk shakes. I actually still have a pay stub from 5/18/73. I worked 10 and 1/4 hours and brought home $18.05 after taxes (gross pay $21.53). Unfortunately after I graduated high school my full-time employer let me know that he didn’t want me to continue working a part-time job.”

Here I am again with Audrey Contres; not only did she work at Gino’s, so did her husband and several of their five children! Photo by Keith Swango.

Finally, a note from my husband, who I think got into Gino’s as much as I did! He points out this website, which is a bit out of date and with some broken links, but which chronicles the Gino’s history quite well. You should definitely check that out while you’re waiting for the rest of my voluminous Gino’s info next week!

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