Santino Cracchiolo began his days in the restaurant business when he was just 12 years old as a dishwasher, he said.
Today, Cracchiolo owns Santino's Italian Cuisine, 100 South Main St. in Jersey Shore, as well as in South Williamsport, which is operated by his nephew Gaetano Genova and brother Antonio Cracchiolo.
The restaurant in Jersey Shore opened in 1992, according to Cracchiolo.
The restaurant welcomes customers with an Italian atmosphere of pillared archways, statues and classic Italian dishes that are described in its menu as "innovative and authentic" and "retains the dignity of Italian classics ... giving modern interpretations."
"I can't really pinpoint a favorite dish," the owner said when referring to what he believes is the best meal to recommend to customers. "It depends on what you're in the mood for."
Cracchiolo described his restaurant as a wonderful place with a good atmosphere.
Santino?s Italian Restaurant in Jersey Shore welcomes customers with an Italian atmosphere and dishes described as "innovative and authentic" and "retains the dignity of Italian classics." Here, Marco Rameriez, a cook at the restaurant, checks on
the progress of one of those dishes.
"I do the best I can," he added. "I put 100 percent into my work. You make everything with your heart, and do the best you can."
The customers that come in make him feel good, he added, and that's what he thinks makes Santino's Italian Cuisine unique - the customer is everything.
When he opened the restaurant, he said it felt good, but was scary at the same time.
"You always have doubt in your mind, or think, 'Am I going to make it?'" he said.
But when the doors opened in February of 1992, Cracchiolo said things started off well, and everybody was excited to try the new thing in town.
Operating the restaurant in a family business style is important to Cracchiolo, and allows for him to be more hands-on, he said, without the worry of a manager that may do things differently or perform duties carelessly.
His presence constitutes a sense of quality to the work he does, he added.
Cracchiolo moved to the United States from Italy in 1979, seeking what many generations have before him: better opportunity.
When he landed in New York City, where he stayed in Brooklyn for two weeks after his arrival in the States, he said he thought "everything looked big" - with the things like skyscrapers that welcomed him and Cadillac cars on the streets.
"It was amazing," he said.
From there, he moved to Virginia and then to Kutztown until he moved to Jersey Shore, where he operated an Original Italian Pizza before he decided to branch out and build his own restaurant.
Cracchiolo was raised around the restaurant business, he said, and his pursuit of finding a career in the trade was strictly that: "That it's a career," he said.
The owner said his restaurant stays busy all year round, for the most part, with the exception of a slow period in the winter months.
There are 25 members on his staff - from dishwashers, cooks, to servers.
When asked what he had in mind for the future of the restaurant, Cracchiolo said he had no plans for the restaurant itself, but has a new sandwich shop under construction that will open soon in Jersey Shore: The Panini House.