PITTSTON — Two weeks is all it took for Joe DeMuro to fall in love with Bev Smith — so much so that he asked her to marry him that quickly.
The two were married on Oct. 14, 1965 and are celebrating 50 years of marriage.
Joe, 73, met Bev, 69, when he returned home to Philadelphia from the Navy to run his father’s pizza shop. A friend gave him Bev’s phone number.
Joe was running the shop one night and, out of boredom, called Bev.
“I never saw her or knew nothing about her,” he said. “First, she didn’t know who I was, but we chatted and I told her how I got her number. Because she didn’t have a car, I told her that I had a pizza place and that she should come down and see me or if they ever needed anything, to give me a call.”
After a few weeks, Bev took Joe up on his offer and called, telling him she was moving out of her apartment. Because he had a car, she thought he might be able to help.
After the move, Bev paid Joe a visit at his pizza shop at 11 p.m. one night. They chatted until 4 a.m.
Bev revealed to Joe she was moving back home to Lime Ridge. He convinced her to return to his restaurant the next day so he could “show her around.”
“Next thing I know he has me waiting on tables,” said Bev. “‘Oh, there’s a family out there, go get their order.’ I’ve never taken an order in my life. ‘Go ring them up!’ I’ve never touched a cash register, ever. This went from that to, ‘Why don’t we just get married?’”
“It’s hard to find good employees, so I married her,” Joe said jokingly.
After the two married, Joe closed his father’s pizza business in Philadelphia.
Joe and Bev moved to Lime Ridge together and lived in various other places in Pennsylvania before coming to Pittston in 1974 where Joe worked as an operations manager for W.T. Grant, a store-based chain of mass-merchandise.
The company shut down in 1976, but Joe did not want to leave Pittston.
“I loved the people, that was it, it was the people,” he said. “I couldn’t find a job I wanted to take and I didn’t want to leave here and I was collecting unemployment for the first time in my life, ever. I then saw this little store front for rent on Williams Street and I called the guy and he said it was $100 a month. I just wanted to have a little extra income until I found something, and then go.”
DeMuro’s Pizza opened for business in 1977 and has been a staple in Pittston ever since.
While operating the pizza business, the couple raised four children — Angela DeMuro, Gina Kenny, Joey Domenic DeMuro and Dr. Maria Winters.
“They grew up here,” Bev said of the couple’s children. “I would tell them, ‘Get in the car because you’re going to be here at least until 7 p.m.’ I would take them home, put them to bed and then I’d come back to work. I would take Joey with me on delivery runs, and then I would take him home and put him to bed and the girls, who were about 12 and 9 years old, would watch him, get their homework done, do the laundry and call me to let me know they were going to bed.”
Today, Joe and Bev, though still owners of the pizza business, have reduced roles at the restaurant.
Joe works Mondays and Fridays while Bev does book work and handles the money. Their daughter, Gina, and grandson, Nick Pearce, Gina’s nephew, run the business.
Gina works as manager, hiring and training employees, while Nick serves as part-time assistant manager.
The restaurant offers pizza, stromboli, calzones, hoagies, salads and more and operates primarily as a pickup and delivery service.
“Sharing responsibility is a big thing,” Joe said. “You can’t throw it all on one person. What she’s good at and what you’re good at are two different things, so we went with our strengths and we make a good unit.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher