CHESTNUTHILL TOWNSHIP -- A supermarket chain with a strong presence in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area is expanding to the Poconos.
The family-owned Gerrity's Supermarkets is well known in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties but the owners say they're looking to grow and heading out of the valley into the mountains to do it.
From south of Wilkes-Barre to north of Scranton and spots in between, Gerrity's Sure Save Supermarkets have a loyal following of shoppers. But now the company wants to expand and the Fasula family that owns the markets thinks the Poconos is the place to do it.
"When you look around the valley there's not a lot of opportunity for growth. All the good locations are taken and of course we're in a lot of the locations we want to be in anyway, or we're serving the communities around there," said Joe Fasula.
But at a plaza in the Effort area of Monroe County, Joe Fasula says the family sees a great opportunity. The only grocery store in the area has been gone since fire wrecked the Hilltop Market there in 2007.
"That market's been out of there for a while. There's no stores within five miles of it and there's a lot of population. If you look on Google Earth and look around there, there's a lot of hidden communities."
Since the fire took out the market there, some of the other businesses at the plaza say they have been hurting. They're looking forward to an anchor store moving in and bringing with it some crowds.
"The new store coming in is definitely a blessing, it's without a doubt going to help," said Will Vanhousen of Original Vincent's Pizza.
Original Vincent's Pizza reopened after the fire, but they miss the supermarket. So do many customers.
"One thing we hear all the time when people stop in is how they used to love the store being there because they don't have to go all the way down to Brodheadsville."
"It will be nice to have something close again. Used to be one here and we'd run down when we needed something real quick, wouldn't have to go all the way to Tannersville or Brodheadsville. It will be nice," said Ed Kennedy of Effort.
Gerrity's plans to build a much larger store, and hopes to start construction next year.
"This is the first time we have a blank sheet of paper so that's really exciting and it's really nice to finally move to a new area," Fasula added.
The owners of Gerrity's say they still need permits and approvals for the project, but hope to start construction about a year from now.