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When you walk into the Pineville Tavern , a couple of things hit you right off the bat. It’s warm. Everyone – staff and customers – seem to be in a good mood. There’s a buzz of people enjoying themselves. And it feels like it’s been this way forever.
In fact, the Pineville Tavern has been around since 1742 (see its Web site for more history). It sits at the intersection of Route 413, and Pineville and Township Line Roads, straddling two townships, Buckingham and Wrightstown, in central Bucks County.
Like a lot of good things, what seems natural and effortless has a lot of intention and hard work behind it. As regulars at the Pineville, or PVT, we were curious as to how the staff was doing it and what got them there.
To find that out, you have to go to Andrew Abruzzese, owner of the PVT for the last twenty years. It was our pleasure – Andrew is a wonderful storyteller – to sit down with him and his son, Drew Abruzzese to talk about their history and their future.
“Cooking has always been a passion of mine,” says Andrew, almost as soon as we start. It began when he was a young boy, helping out in the kitchens of his grandmother and aunts, and at neighborhood events in the Italian section of Baltimore, where his mother was from, and then South Philly, his father’s childhood home. Both families’ roots go deep into Italy, his mother’s from Naples, his father’s from the mountains of Abruzzi.
His father’s father was a chef, his aunt was a chef, his father a “natural” cook. On his mother’s side of the family, his aunts catered and sold baked goods. You get the picture. Andrew comes from food.
But he was also inquisitive. He spent a lot of time hanging at everyone’s elbows to learn all he could about cooking. “I knew I could get anything out of any cook if I helped clean up,” he says. “I became an expert at cleaning up.”
That passion continued into his marriage in 1976, when Andrew became the “one who cooked dinner,” and then after the kids came along (Drew, then Phillip), entertaining for friends and family.
It wasn’t until 1988 this love of cooking and entertaining took shape in the form of a restaurant. And it almost didn’t happen. Originally, Andrew’s plan was for a family-style restaurant, designed with help from his friend Jim Hamilton (of the Hamilton Grill in Lambertville) in a property further south on 413. The deal fell through, and while sitting at the bar of the Pineville Tavern, crying in his beer so to speak, an idea was born. Joe Turner, then owner of the PVT, said, “Why don’t you buy this place?”
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