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Old 05-01-2012, 07:51 AM   #1
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Default ‘All gone:’ Beloved Steelers bar is in ruins

‘All gone:’ Beloved Steelers bar is in ruins

Steve Mocarsky - smocarsky@timesleader.com - 570-970-7311 - Twitter: @TLSteveMocarsky

EXETER – When a dejected Francesco Stuppino emerged from the charred remains of his sports bar after a walk-through with the fire chief Monday afternoon, he had a towel over his shoulder.

But he’s refusing to throw it in.

Just as his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers came from behind in the final quarter of the Super Bowl a few years ago to best the Arizona Cardinals, Stuppino and his family are determined that Cuz’s Susquehanna Avenue Bar & Grille will come back to again be a place of camaraderie for area Steelers fans to twirl their Terrible Towels as they cheer touchdowns and tackles on the TVs.

Exeter Fire Chief Richard McNeil said his company was dispatched to the bar at 12:10 p.m. and found the kitchen side of the bar fully involved. The fire was under control within 15 minutes of dispatch, but the kitchen side of the bar sustained extensive fire damage and there was heavy heat and smoke damage to the rest of it.

No one was in the building when the fire started and it appears accidental; a state police fire marshal is investigating, said McNeil, who was a loyal customer.

“They have great food. I’ve known the owner for 20 years. That makes it even harder. He’s devastated,” McNeil said.

“I’m a Steelers fan and it’s been a Steelers bar and we lost it all. I lost everything that I had, all my autographs. It’s irreplaceable,” Stuppino said, his voice cracking with emotion.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever been here, but it was a shrine to the Steelers. How do you replace it? I could rebuild, definitely, but how do you replace it?” Stuppino said.

Stuppino rattled off the names of athletes whose autographed photos and jerseys hung on the walls. Former Steelers Jerome Bettis, Jack Ham and Rod Woodson, Pittsburgh native/former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, the late Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente, the “Steel Curtain” defensive line of “Mean” Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White. All gone.

“Mark Bruener’s helmet is burnt, melted. … I had every high school in our Wyoming Valley area – they donated their helmets to us, you know?” Stuppino said. “I just got a picture autographed personally by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. They brought it last week, I had it on the wall; it disintegrated.”

Stuppino, the chef and manager, said his daughter, Francesca Butcofski, his son, Joe, and bar owner Maureen Noone made the place successful with the help of loyal patrons and Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

“We poured our blood, sweat and tears into this place,” said Butcofski. “Our patrons are like our family. Hopefully we can build it bigger and better. If there’s any football team that has a commodity like a family, it’s the Steelers and I know they’ll come through and help us rebuild this place. We appreciate the outpour of thoughts and prayers.”

Stuppino said he has been receiving calls and text messages “from all over the country. I just got two awards – from the Pittsburgh Steelers personally and from the NFL for (having) the best Steelers’ fans.”

Stuppino also was quick to thanks those who did their best to save his bar.

“These guys here, our emergency services, our ambulance service, our Exeter Fire Department, Exeter police, all the other fire departments in the area that helped out, I want them guys getting credit for what they did. They’re the best,” Stuppino said.

McNeil said fire departments from Exeter Township, Wyoming, Pittston, West Pittston and Hughestown assisted.

And while he’s not a Steelers fan, McNeil is glad his longtime friend is determined to rebuild and reopen.

“How about we make it a Redskins bar?” McNeil joked, trying to coax a chuckle from his friend before leaving the fire scene.

“I’ll give you a corner, alright?” Stuppino quipped, managing a smile.
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: ‘All gone:’ Beloved Steelers bar is in ruins

I hope the Dallas police round up any local Ravens fans for questioning. Enhanced interrogation techniques seem to be warranted here.
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