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Monessen car dealer reverts to repair shop

| Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

Begun in 1930, Frank's Service Garage Inc. serviced automobiles for five years before selling new cars.

"That's why we never changed our name," said Robert Mandarino, one of the co-owners of the business.

Now, more than 70 years later, Frank's is going back to its roots.

Currently located at 57 Donner Ave., Monessen, the business was opened by Frank Mandarino - for whom it was named - and his four sons: Ralph, Rich, Robert and Raymond.

It was originally located at the island where a war memorial now sits, across the street from its current home.

The dealership moved to the current location after a downtown redevelopment.

Bob McKelvie was a partner with Frank Mandarino for the first year or two of the business. After he left, he operated a dealership for many years, where the current city garage is now located in Monessen.

The service garage became a DeSoto and Plymouth dealership in 1935.

When DeSotos went off the market in 1960, Frank's began selling Chrysler cars.

Born and raised in Monessen, Robert Mandarino began working at the business in 1935, when he was just 10. He pumped gas in the beginning and later worked in the parts department for a number of years.

He began selling cars in 1974, after his father passed away and his brothers, Ray and Ralph, left the business. Ray Mandarino moved to Nevada and Raymond became a teacher.

Robert Mandarino served his country from 1943 to 1946 and fought in World War II. But otherwise, he has been with Frank's for the past 73 years.

Today, Robert Mandarino co-owns the business with his three nephews: Rich's three sons Larry, Richard and Ron Mandarino.

Robert Mandarino said the decision to stop selling Chryslers was mutual, made by the dealership and Chrysler Corp. The discontinuation of Frank's as a Chrysler dealership became effective July 31.

Frank's stopped selling new Plymouth cars in 2000 and was hampered because it had a limited number of makes to offer customers, Robert Mandarino said.

He said Frank's had not been selling enough new cars to warrant continuing that aspect of the business.

"It was a tough decision, especially when we've been doing it for all of these years," Frank Mandarino said. "But a decision had to be made. We hung on as along as we could.

"Monessen has been good to us."

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