WILKES-BARRE — Circles on the Square celebrated entering its 30th year on Public Square with a cake baked by a faithful customer.
Beethoven was there, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Abe Lincoln and, as usual, a long line of customers.
Of course, the aforementioned celebrities, all deceased, were there in other forms — magnets, pictures, plaster busts. But the people — those Circles’ lunchtime customers who crave “Mom’s Meatloaf” and other aptly named sandwiches — they were real.
Circles, owned by Phil Rudy, is the place where customers can get a sandwich, soup, salad or pastry and pick up everything from wind chimes to handmade jewelry, soap to coffee and tea, or a t-shirt to post cards, jigsaw puzzles, incense, magnetic finger puppets, rubber stamps, art prints and even a kazoo, harmonica or pan flute.
“If Wegmans or Kohl’s has it, I don’t want it here,” Rudy, 65, said. “Where else can you get one of these?” he asked, pointing to a bull’s eye mirror.
And Tuesday, cake was the featured dessert, prepared by Diane Brewster, a downtown office worker who bakes out of “love and passion” for special people — like Rudy and his staff and customers.
Brewster said she and her co-workers ordered lunch from Circles a couple of weeks ago and they noticed that the sandwiches had names like “One,two, fourteen,” and “Our 30th year” and “Tempus done fugit” (time does flee). When Brewster realized her favorite deli was entering its 30th year of business, she felt the occasion deserved a cake.
Brewster brought the cake to Circles on Tuesday morning and presented it to Rudy and his staff — Bill Scholl, (17 years), Beth Pierontoni (17 years), Kathy Alaimo (10 years), Brenda Sokolowski (seven years) and Stephanie Jennings (two years).
“I’ve been a Circles’ customer since it opened,” Brewster said. “We sit and laugh at the names of the sandwiches every day. The daily menu of specials brings laughter to us every day.”
Rudy takes pride in knowing the restaurant has outlasted most others in the downtown. Only Mimmo’s across Public Square has been around longer than Circles.
“Other than Mimmo’s, it’s Boscov’s and that’s that,” Rudy said. “I used to keep a list of all the places that closed since I’ve been here.”
Tuesday’s menu featured weather: Paul’s Partly Cloudy, Sam’s Mostly Sunny, Suzy Showers Likely, Bobby Blizzard, Snow Squalls by Sarah and Tex’s Polar Vortex Tax.
Rudy said he gets the names for his sandwiches from the “Big Book of Sandwiches,” which actually is the Random House Dictionary of the English Language.
“People ask me what is the secret of my success,” he said. “I tell them quality, using the best possible deli meats I can get, reasonable prices, fiscal prudence and location, location, location.”
And Rudy offered a few Circle-isms:
• “How do you find a unique store like Circles? You ‘neak up on it.”
• “What goes around, comes around at Circles on the Square.”
• And referring to the variety of products offered other than sandwiches, he said, “Man does not live by bread alone.”
Rudy said Brewster’s cake was “a genuine, generous, nice gesture.” He passed out slices to customers.
For her effort, Rudy will serve Mom’s Meatloaf Thursday — Brewster’s favorite.
Icing on the cake.