Monday, January 18, 2010

Progress...What's next?

It’s an old fashioned drive-in eatery at the very visible intersection of Routes 412 and 611 in Ottsville.

Serving soft ice cream from a window in summer after soccer and baseball games and chili, burgers and fried chicken indoors all year, Pryzuski’s has been an Upper Bucks County staple for 40 years.

Yesterday was it’s last day open.

With the sign out front displaying, “Thanks for 40 years,” it was a gentle way of saying goodbye to the legions of people who drive by every day and stop in a couple times a week or a couple times during the year.

Progress has come to our world up here at the top of Bucks County. When we moved here in 1992, there was a field across from Pryzuski’s that said, “Coming Soon: Nockamixon Crossing.”

Our family, moving up from Central Bucks and Montgomery County areas was excited that there would be some sort of civilization nearby and looked forward to not having to drive 20 minutes in any direction to get take-out on Friday night and possibly grocery shop closer to home.

Little did we know, there were fights going on behind the doors of the municipalities in this portion of the world. There are folks who lived here, didn’t necessarily want shopping centers with grocery stores, dry cleaners, take-out food shops or other unnecessary things that could be gotten elsewhere. They wanted open space, clean water in their creeks and fields kept open for farming.

What folks wanted was a nice place to take the kids on Saturday nights for a quick hotdog and milkshake. An unpretentious, old fashioned dining place that catered to those with less discriminating palates and lighter wallets is what satisfied people in this area.

Pryzuski’s was a step back in time. A square building with a slanted roof, two windows for ordering ice cream with an air conditioner overhead that you had to be careful not to get dripped upon when they handed out your cone.

Inside were brown linoleum tiled floors, windows on three sides that started at waist level and go up to the roof. You get your food by counter service, get a number and 9 times out of 10, they deliver your plastic tray with food on paper plates or Styrofoam containers to your table. Tables and chairs were stationary with brown Formica tops and orange plastic mate’s chairs all one unit with legs sunk into the floor..

Teens usually worked the kitchen and did an adequate job serving sundaes and fries.

With the dawn of subdivisions comes the new people who want to live in the country. New people who may not understand that there aren’t fire hydrants down the street, but volunteer fire departments who use tanker trucks to put out a blaze. New people aren’t always fond of taking the winding back roads to the nearest town 20 minutes away to get pizza with artichokes New people wish for gas pumps five minutes away to fill up to and from their faraway jobs.

Capitalism has a way of rearing its head and we now have two new shopping centers. One about two miles away from where Pryzuski’s and one only a few footsteps away from it’s location. The final insult may have been the new small batch ice cream shop just up the street that opened up last year. Delightful for those who like well crafted homemade food, it seems well appreciated, but surely puts a dent in the cash register of Pryzuski’s.

I’m guessing competition is fierce nowadays. With two pizza places only a stones throw from the Pryzuski’s location; one north and another east, a sandwich shop and two diner-like restaurants close enough to spit at, things are just too much for this little piece of Upper Bucks County.

Of course there’s the old adage that nothing lasts forever and it is true. However, it is sad just the same to see something that generations of people have flocked to in their cars, motorcycles, hot rods and even horses for some sustenance and refreshment over the years.

In 1992, I used to be one of those new people. This area and these little places I’ve become fond of, just as I’ve become fond of the land, clean water and farms that surround me here. Progress can’t be stopped, but, I for one will miss seeing that tell-tale start of summer with Pryzuski’s sign saying they are open till 9 P.M.


  1. As a former employee of Przyuski's, I am sad to see an Ottsville icon come to an end. Although it was not much to look at, that building is full of soo many wonderful memories. The owners, workers, and customers were wonderful people. It was like having a second family. I will greatly miss Przyuski's as I know many others will too. I am happy to have been a part of it for the last 15 years.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Yes, it is so sad to see such a local icon leave. I've yet been able to step into the Friends Pizza...kinda feel like I'd be a traitor. It'll take some time, I guess.