WHY THIS IS A MUST-READ:
Find out about the next chapter in a long-time establishment so familiar to residents and visitors in the Hawley and Lackawaxen region, the Cuckoo's Nest.
LACKAWAXEN - Saturday marked a new chapter for the Cuckoo’s Nest Restaurant in Lackawaxen. While the doors opened for St. Patrick’s Day with nearly 100 patrons enjoying traditional corn beef and cabbage, many were in attendance at the grand opening Saturday.
A bartender at the restaurant, Rhonda Palmisano has been serving drinks to customers for 14 years, having served at establishments in Key West to Manhattan and now Lackawaxen. Bartending at the Cuckoo’s Nest will be different than her previous experiences Palmisano said, because of the people in the region who are like those from the television show “Cheers,” as everyone knows one another. Seeing the familiar faces is the reason people will continue to visit the restaurant she believes, which will make the Cuckoo’s Nest the “place you want to go.”
Now, Palmisano said she is ready to work in Lackawaxen because she believes the restaurant will a great success. Palmisano said she enjoys bartending because she doesn’t consider it work, but rather a “great time” as she likes making drinks and talking with people. It is the community that Palmisano said will make the restaurant great, as she has come to know many after working at Mast Hope. The name in itself will make people curious and from there, friends will be made, fun will be had and good food will be enjoyed.
Newly named Lackawaxen Township Supervisor, Jeffrey Shook was in attendance at the grand opening. The modernized restaurant, Shook called it “beautiful” as it fits the area and he believes it will do well, because the “location is prime.” Seeing the new Cuckoo’s Nest, Shook acknowledged he was surprised because he thought it wouldn’t have been changed much. However, the layout is “basically the same” but the “painting and trim is beautiful” which exceeded his expectations.
From years ago, Maryann Engvaldsen recalled when hard ice cream was served at the restaurant and children played outside while the adults would have a drink because it was a “family bar.”
Gail Engvaldsen had her wedding reception at the Cuckoo’s Nest 50 years ago, and today, she said the restaurant “looks great.” Years ago, she recalled having dates with her now husband at the restaurant, where they would play pool, square dance and have fun because it was “always a big family place.”
The owners include President and Co-Owner Angelo Gentile; CFO and Co-Owner Andrea Holmes; Vice President and Co-Owner Robert Holmes known to many in the area as ‘Hotel Bob.’
When Shelley Belli, the director of marketing, event planning and the general manager introduced the owners at the opening, someone excitedly said “Welcome back to Cuckoos.”
Andrea gave a special thanks to Belli who has continuously worked to make everything come together.
Most of the construction was done by Gentile.
Robert, who is Andrea’s son, has years of experience in the hotel and restaurant business. The Cuckoo’s Nest means a lot to both of them because of memories made at the restaurant years ago. Before purchasing the restaurant, he said the three questioned taking on such a venture. When the restaurant was purchased, at the time Robert didn’t have children, now he has three and so opening today was a “now or never” decision.
It was from a former owner that Robert said he learned a lot and that helped the owners learn how to make the Cuckoo’s Nest run as a restaurant with a bar rather than a bar with a restaurant. Now, they want the restaurant to be a “staple and a pillar of the community.”
The food, Robert said will be good because the team in the kitchen are “great,” as they are “creative and local” meaning they know what people in the area want. Also though, the chef will “step outside the boundaries with creative ideas.”
The food will include traditional German dishes, with some Italian and a “local flare” that residents have asked for Robert said. There will be “great pizza” with an oven that allows for four pies to be made at a time with homemade dough, bread, buns and more, as most of the food will be made from scratch. Some of the food will offer customers a taste of “home cuisine” Robert said, because there will be a goulash that will remind customers of their own dishes.
Chef Michael Giacalone said he is excited to be working at the “landmark” and now, he is ready to bring the Cuckoo’s Nest “back to its former glory.” He is especially ready to make people happy. Able to cook a “little bit of everything,” Giacalone likes trying new things. His food however, is different than other restaurants because of the “love” he puts into the dishes.
One of the owners, Andrea Holmes credits Belli with making everything comes together, in part because of her experience in the restaurant industry as well as her excitement for the new Cuckoo’s Nest. Looking to the future of the restaurant, Andrea said she is excited to get to know people. For Andrea, opening the Cuckoo’s Nest was a tribute to her late husband and her son Robert.
Belli said the concept of family is important for the restaurant because the Cuckoo’s Nest is “all about the family and living life” where people can “cherish memories of the past with the present and the future.”
The Cuckoo’s Nest is located on PA Route 590 at the corner with Westcolang Road in Bohemia, near the center of Lackawaxen Township. For more information visit the Cuckoo’s Nest Restaurant on Facebook or call 570-685-7837.