HAZLETON — After 55 years in Hazleton, a well-known gas station and car repair shop is closing its doors.
The owner said part of the reason is a road construction project that is hurting business.
Bernie Craig is the owner of Ryba’s Service Station. He’s been working there for the past 24 years.
He said business has been slow because of mini-marts like Sheetz and Turkey Hill.
But the construction on Broad Street is what he said is hurting his business the most, and that’s why Craig thinks it’s time to close his doors.
He repairs cars, does paperwork, and even pumps gas for customers. Bernie Craig is a one man show at Ryba’s Service Station.
“You know it’s convenient. It’s close to home. I know he does good work. He charges fair prices,” said Chris Blebis of Hazleton.
However, business has dropped off, forcing him to close Ryba’s after 55 years.
“I was 600 to 700 gallons a day. Now I’m down to 200 gallons a day,” said Craig, Ryba’s owner.
He said fewer people are coming to his shop because mini-marts like Sheetz and Turkey Hill offer cheaper gas.
Craig said one of the biggest reasons he’s losing business is because of the construction happening on Broad Street in Hazleton. He said people are avoiding the road altogether and they’re not stopping at Ryba’s.
“Nobody wants to come on Broad Street at all because of construction. I avoid it if I have to. I’ll go all the way around town,” said Nick Campesi of West Hazleton.
PennDOT is adding a turning lane, new traffic signals and lights to a three-and-a-half mile stretch of the road.
Craig wishes there was a way to keep Ryba’s alive.
“I’ve seen infants in infant seats graduate college and get married and move away. It’s something I’ll never forget, all the people I’ve met and actually watching kids grow up. It’s pretty amazing,” said Craig.
PennDOT officials said they’ve been meeting regularly with the Hazleton Chamber of Commerce to address business owners’ concerns about the construction.
They said this is just a necessary evil, that if they don’t suffer through construction the road won’t get the upgrades and repairs it needs.
Craig plans to close Ryba’s by mid-August and continue doing mechanic work elsewhere.