The Village Restaurant celebrates 50 years in Mt. Pleasant

| Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

For the past 50 years, the Rega family and its business, The Village Restaurant, have served four generations of customers homemade Italian cuisine.

In 1963, Gene Rega made a decision to purchase a bar on Main Street in Mt. Pleasant Borough that would shape the rest of his life and eventually the lives of his family.

“I was 21 at the time, and I loafed in here a little bit and it came up for sale,” Rega said.

He said his father helped him purchase the bar, which evolved into a restaurant.

“First we began offering sandwiches, then pizza, and then a spaghetti special. We just kept adding things until we got to where what we offer now,” he said.

When The Village first started making pizzas, Rega said they would sell four or five a night. He said now they average about 100 pizzas a night.

As the business grew, so did the building to make room for the growing clientele. In the late 1960s, Rega enclosed a porch that was on the second floor of the building to expand the seating area. Then, in the early 1970s, he expanded the building by adding the room where the bar is now housed onto the original building.

Rega credits the longevity of the restaurant with offering good quality food at low prices.

“We keep our costs down by making a lot of things homemade and we also have many family members working in the restaurant,” he said.

The Village is truly a family affair. Rega and his wife, Jan Rega, both work in the restaurant. He said his mother worked there until she was 92. At the beginning of this year, the couple's daughter, Gina Rega James, and son, Don Rega, returned to the restaurant full time to help them run the business.

“Gina prepares most of the food and Don does a lot of the prep work during the day and the ordering. Eventually they will co-own the place,” Gene Rega said. “They are bringing a lot of new ideas into the business.”

Rega James said she left a career as a hairstylist to return to the restaurant.

“We both worked here as teenagers and we seem to keep coming back,” Rega James said. “I like working here with Dad, and I just like working with family.”

Don Rega said he left his career as a lawyer because the restaurant has been in the family for 50 years and he would like to see it continue. He said with his wife, Kristen Rega, working at the restaurant, it gives the couple more time together as well.

“If I didn't come here I would have to find a job. It's great knowing that I can come here every day,” Don Rega said.

The pair said they do not intend to change things at the restaurant because what they have been doing for years continues to make customers happy.

“It's been consistent for 50 years. We still use my grandmother's recipes and we don't intend on changing any of that. It's worked for 50 years, and I'd like to see it work for another 50 years and have us be the ones celebrating,” Rega James said.

The family is hosting a weekend-long celebration this Saturday and Sunday for its customers.

“This is Dad's life; he loves it and I wanted him to have a day he could sit back and relax and enjoy it. We have also wanted to do a Columbus Day celebration for awhile,” Rega James said.

The events begin Saturday with a Bocce Tournament at 4 p.m. Teams of four will compete. Teams must sign up in advance at the bar.

The Back In Time Band will play from 7-10 that evening and from 5-8 p.m. Sunday.

There will be prizes and giveaways along with food and drink specials.

On Sunday, there will be a Pittsburgh Steelers Tailgate Party from noon-4 p.m., weather permitting, along with food and drink specials.

All events will be outside in the upper parking lot.

“It's a nice way to say thank you to our customers,” Don Rega said.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.

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