Bruno’s turns One Hundred

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By Andrew Hayes
Clinton County Chatter

In 1915, Bruno Mazzolini opened Bruno’s Wonder Bar in downtown St. Johns. One hundred years later, the family-owned business still provides a hangout spot for St. Johns residents.

What has made the business so successful? “Consistency,” third-generation owner Dean Mazzolini said.

“People are creatures of habit,” Mazzolini said, “I’d say about 90 percent of our customers are regulars.”

While Bruno’s has always been family-owned, the business has seen its share of changes over the past century.

According to Dean Mazzolini, the bar was originally located on State Street in St. Johns but was forced to move two blocks north to Higham Street in 1932 because a church was built near the original location.

During Prohibition, the store remained open but had to change its merchandise.

“It was a tobacco shop during Prohibition,” Dean Mazzolini said, “There was loose tobacco spread on the tables. We also sold ice cream and maybe a little liquor out of the basement.”

The only son of Don Mazzolini, Dean Mazzolini inherited the business and has expanded it since taking over.

“We got the party store in 2005 and added the pizza place in 1999,” Dean Mazzolini said in reference to the adjoining liquor store to the south and pizza parlor to the east, “My wife comes in every morning and makes pizzas. Dad still comes in every morning at 7 a.m. to pour coffee for awhile.”

Fifty-six-year-old lifetime St. Johns resident Perry Henning talked about changes he’s seen to the bar in the 30-plus years he’s been going there.

“Not too much has changed,” he said, “I mean (Dean) has updated everything but other than that it’s stayed about the same.”

“When college kids come back home, this is typically the first stop,” Henning said.

When asked what the future holds for Bruno’s, Dean Mazzolini was unwilling to say what’s in store.

“I don’t rush into things,” he said, “I’ve still got a while before I have to figure that out.”

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