Lining the counter of the cash register sit current family photographs while larger frames envelope the walls with pictures from the restaurant’s past. As customers receive a menu, the cover explains one particular family’s history.
Paolucci & Begley Restaurant, Deli and Lounge, better known as Paolucci’s Restaurant, celebrated 125 years in business and hosted the annual Street Dance to commemorate the anniversary this past Saturday.
When asked how the business has kept its doors open for 125 years, Margie Begley, co-owner, was quick to respond.
“Family working hard, together,” Margie said.
Mike and Margie opened Paolucci’s Restaurant on Feb. 19, 1983. However, the business dates back to 1894 when Felix and Dominic Paolucci immigrated to Atchison from Frosolone, Italy.
The brothers opened Paolucci’s Grocery. While operating the business, Dominic had four children with his wife Rosa: Nick, John, Felix and Mary.
In 1936, Mary Paolucci married Ed Begley, sparking the business’ renaming to Paolucci and Begley Grocery. Mary’s youngest son and current owner, Mike, joined the business in 1970.
“About 50 years ago, Mike had gotten out of the service, we were married, and he was working for the railroad” Margie said. “He came back to town and came into business. He and I bought the business from Mary about 45 years ago.”
Since then, Margie and Mike have renovated the upstairs which was a former hotel to the current Paolucci’s lounge. The couple also expanded into the downstairs banquet space.
“I personally hope I’m finished expanding,” Margie said. “I think Ed will take it over and as much as you think you’re finished expanding, who knows what he’ll do with it.”
Ed Begley, Mike and Margie’s son, runs the upstairs lounge.
“Best memories from here would be the ability to grow up here and watch my grandmother work, my father work, me work, my kids work, my nieces and nephews,” Ed said. “We are all able to live and work together.”
To celebrate the anniversary, family members were dressed in 125th Anniversary t-shirts.
According to Margie, family members traveled from Washington, Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina and Florida to celebrate the occasion.
“We’ve been here all these years, we see the pictures on the walls, we remember who is who, but listening to the next generation trying to explain to each other how they’re related and how it all started, that’s been fun,” Margie said.
When asked whether he sees the business expanding more, Ed was focused on the present condition of the restaurant.
“It will just keep on going, somehow we’ve always just figured out to keep on going.”
Paolucci’s Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“When we opened the restaurant, we wanted the farmer in overalls to be able to sit next to the business man in the suit and they were both comfortable,” Margie said. “Hopefully we have done that.”