PLYMOUTH – Gloria Suscavage still works the bar her father opened in 1935.
She sits on a stool and serves up beers and hot dogs to her customers who remember the legendary name – Mergo's – and the vibrancy of a town that hardly resembles its glory days.
Suscavage, 86, has a rule in her place of business – she will not accept tips – well, not for herself.
Instead she asks for dimes, but usually she gets much more, and places them in a tall glass behind the bar. Each year, Suscavage counts up the dimes, nickels, quarters and dollars and writes a check for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Since 2005, Suscavage, the owner of Mergo's, has raised more than $20,000 for the organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
A customer came in and told me how Make-A-Wish helped his grandchild, Suscavage said. It was such a sweet story. It's such a good organization.
Maggie O'Brien, regional manager for the Scranton office of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia, said donors like Suscavage and the customers of Mergo's are vital to the organization's mission.
She said partnering with business owners and community leaders is essential to the success of Make-A-Wish.
We are completely privately funded and without community-minded people stepping forward and offering their support we would not be able to grant the wishes of these amazing kids, O'Brien said. Gloria and her patrons inspire us all and they prove that a small group of well-minded people can have a huge impact on the lives of our children. And we thank them for that.
Mergo is a familiar name in Plymouth. The late John Snoggy Mergo was the iconic coach of Plymouth's football, basketball and baseball teams for decades, winning numerous championships. Suscavage's father, Steve Mergo, opened the bar that was first called the Cymric Social Club because a lot of Welsh miners frequented the establishment. He changed the name to Mergo's in 1938.
Suscavage began helping her father in 1944, selling hot dogs and sodas. Back then, two dogs and a soda could be purchased for a quarter, she said. She married Joe Suscavage in 1951 and he joined the business. The building is more than 100 years old and Gloria still lives above the bar in the apartment she shared with her late husband.
Many of her customers have been coming in for years. She said one man won't ever leave a tip.
He won't put a dime in the glass, she said. But once a month he brings a bag of dimes for Make-A-Wish.
During Plymouth's annual Kielbasa Festival, Suscavage has several volunteer bartenders to help with the plentiful crowd. She said they won't keep their tips either – they put them in the Make-A-Wish glass.
We all do what we can to help, she said.
There are thousands of stories that can be told about Mergo's and the Mergo family. But Suscavage is most proud of the help she gives to the kids of Make-A-Wish.
You can still get a good hot dog at Mergo's. And you can throw a few dimes in the tall glass to help put smiles on the faces of some very special children.
You can stop by Mergo's at 113 West. Main St., Plymouth, to donate, or you can call Gloria Suscavage at 570-779-3776. Donations can be sent to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania & Southern West Virginia, Scranton Regional Office, 1327 Pittston Ave., Scranton, PA 18505; or call: (570) 341-9474.Counties served: Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, Wyoming.