Coverage of the reopening of Frank's Pharmacy in the "Queens Chronicle" on October 31, 2014:
Frank’s Pharmacy reopens to fanfare
Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:35 pm, Thu Oct 30, 2014.
by Khorri Atkinson, Chronicle Contributor
Determined. Family oriented. Beloved. These were some words a number of residents and local elected officials in the Jackson Heights community used to describe Frank Buonagurio at the grand reopening ceremony of his drugstore, Frank’s Pharmacy.
The independent, family-owned business reopened last Saturday, just six months after a five-alarm fire gutted its old location and caused more than $1 million in damage.
Buonagurio, who had been running the business since 1991 with the help of his late father, who helped him to start it, said he had to do something “to go forward.”
“After the fire, which was totally unexpected, I woke up the next morning saying that I need to make a decision on whether to go forward,” he said. “I felt the support. People need to work and the whole thing took six months, which is an unbelievable reality. I’m just blessed to have back this place.”
The celebratory event had the attendance of nearly 100 residents, friends and relatives, including state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmurst) and City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), whom Buonagurio said were “instrumental” in helping him to reopen his business. The elected leaders proclaimed Oct. 25 as “Frank’s Pharmacy Day” and presented him with proclamations.
“You know they say for every comeback there is a setback; this is about that comeback, after that dreadful day with that five-alarm fire,” said Peralta. “Frank could have just packed up and said ‘I did my time, I’m going to close up shop, do something else with my life.’ But he chose to fight back and come back. And for that, we thank you Frank.”
Dromm acknowledged Buonagurio not only for the pharmaceutical service he provides but also other community initiatives he executed over the years. Those include donating a new scoreboard for the gym at St. Joan of Arc School in Jackson Heights and his contributions to Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride, Inc.
“He made contributions to Queens Pride and had advertisements in local newspapers supporting victims of HIV/AIDS,” said Dromm. “He recognized that many of his clients are dealing with the same problem. That was really helpful to the community.”
Dromm recalled that after the fire, Buonagurio changed his business number to his own phone number, so senior citizens who are in need of medications could get them.
Elizabeth Callahan, who has been living in Jackson Heights for more than 40 years, said the “old-fashioned” customer service is what attracts her to keep supporting the Buonagurio.
“He’s the good old-fashioned pharmacist, who knows you and what your problems are before you tell him,” said Callahan. “He is so loved by the community. We have his back.”
Fellow Jackson Heights resident Mary Pat Scianimanico concurs with Callahan that Frank’s Pharmacy is family-oriented.
“They treat you like family, and that’s really important,” she said. “It is a family pharmacy. We all feel that way. And I give him credit for picking up one of the worst situations in life.”
Frank’s Pharmacy is now located at 77-01 37 Ave., just three blocks from the Bruson Building, its former address for 23 years. The drugstore was among a number of businesses, including the old campus of Plaza College, that were completely destroyed by the fire. The pharmacy primarily serves residents of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Woodside.
While everyone celebrated Buonagurio’s “comeback,” his 89-year-old mother, Ida Buonagurio, told the Queens Chronicle that she wished someone else was able to join the festivity.
“His father; I wish he was here to see his son,” she said. “He would be proud of him. I respect his decision to reopen the business and I am happy for the support he got.”
Link to original article.