Though it was well past noon on a recent weekday, the lunch crowd was still bustling at Center City Café in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
"The muffins are phenomenal," Dave McGovern of Pringle said as he chose a homemade apple-caramel creation.
"Cheddar? Parmesan? Mozzarella? Gruyere? Blue?" another customer asked Jeremy YonKondy, trying to guess all nine cheeses the young chef puts into his macaroni and cheese.
"The last four are harder to guess," YonKondy's grandmother Regina Poplawski called from her perch behind the counter.
Soon Poplawski spotted local triathlon champion Sean Robbins as he stopped by for his usual.
"He wins triathlons on our tuna salad," she said proudly.
The cozy café on Public Square offers many choices, from Black Angus burgers to savory chili to the occasional shepherd's pie, but one of the most popular items is the Chicken Salad Supreme sandwich on sourdough. "We go through 50 pounds of chicken a week," said café owner Donna YonKondy, who is mom to Jeremy and daughter to Regina.
YonKondy is confident more people will like it if they get a chance to taste it, so she decided to bring it to next week's Taste of Success fund-raiser.
The sixth annual event, set for Oct. 18 at the Mericle Family Center for Enterprise Education in Pittston, will raise money for Junior Achievement, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating students in kindergarten through grade 12 about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
"That is so worthwhile," YonKondy said, "because some kids get out of high school or college and don't even know how to balance a checkbook."
"We're hoping to raise $15,000," said Melissa Turlip, president of Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
In addition to Center City Café, other exhibitors who will bring food or beverages to the event include Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Banko North, Bartolai Winery, Doc Magrogran's, Fire and Ice on Toby Creek, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, Peking Chef, Red Robin, Truly Scrumptious, Vintner's Circle, The Woodlands and the culinary-arts programs at Luzerne County Community College and West Side Career and Technical Center.
"The restaurants really go out of their way to create something special," Turlip said.
The event will include a meet-and-greet with "Project Runway" season one winner Jay McCarroll as well as a silent auction and basket raffle. If you're wondering what to wear, Turlip suggests business casual.
What: ‘Taste of Success'
When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 18
Where: Mericle Family Center for Enterprise Education, 1122 Oak St., Pittston
Info: 602-3600 or janepa.org