'Two handsome Irish owners' take the helm at Wilkes-Barre's Frog Pond

·4 min read

Jul. 24—WILKES-BARRE — The new owners of the Frog Pond on Coal Street want to assure customers that they can still have "a hopping good time" at the popular bar and restaurant that offers the same great food and service.

Stuart Cahill and Pat Tracy, both 55, purchased the Frog Pond the week before Thanksgiving 2021 from Mary Jo Farber Burke, who owned the business for 24 years.

Cahill and Tracy both live in Shavertown. They have been friends for four years and they had often discussed going into business together.

"When we saw the story in the Times Leader at the end of 2021 that the Frog Pond was up for sale, we discussed it and decided to give it a shot," Cahill said. "We want people to know that this is the same Frog Pond with the same great food and service and familiar faces."

Cahill, a native of Ireland, and Tracy, who grew up in Pittston, said Mary Jo's niece Cassie, still cooks at the Frog Pond; and a new chef, Lyle, moved here from Southern California. Tracy said Lyle worked in a restaurant in San Clemente that Tracy frequented.

"Lyle won awards for a burger — the Animal Burger — he created," Tracy said. "It's on our menu now."

Cahill and Tracy said customers can still "get in and out" for $20 after a couple of beers and the Frog Pond's delicious pizza. They said the wing sauce is also the same and a few new items have been added to the menu.

"We're still going strong," Cahill said. "The Frog Pong has the same great food and service, reasonable prices and two handsome Irish owners."

The two owners laughed at that last part, but said they want people to know that they can still have "a hopping good time" at the Frog Pond.

About the owners

Cahill was born, raised, and educated in Dublin, Ireland. He said his college education was in hospitality management. In 1987, he was hired by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and ultimately decided to make his life in the U.S.A.

"I continued my food and beverage career in NEPA, having moved here with my young family in 1992," Cahill said. "Ultimately I was convinced to leave the business I loved, to begin an almost 30-year career in financial services."

Cahill said his love of food, entertaining, and the hospitality industry never left him and he stayed in touch with it through the years by way of the work he had done for multiple restaurant owner clients.

"The Frog Pond became my 'weekly, meet my buddy and solve the world's problems over a couple of beers' place," Cahill said. "And it was one Thursday, while waiting for him to arrive at the bar, I received a link to the Times Leader article about the bar being sold. I immediately requested a meeting with MJ and the rest is history, as they say."

Tracy also has a tie-in to the Times Leader — he was a paperboy in the '70s and '80s and even went to Wilkes (College) on a scholarship the paper had back then for paper carriers.

"There was even a big story in the paper about that," Tracy said.

Tracy attended Wilkes University in 1985-1986, and then joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served 30 years, made the rank of Sergeant Major, did several combat deployments, and retired in California in 2015.

"Long story short, my wife passed from cancer in 2017, and I decided it was time to finally come home in 2021 to be with family and take care of my ailing father," Tracy said. "Shortly thereafter, Stuart, my good friend and now business partner, proposed buying the Frog Pond from Mary Jo."

Tracy said, "Like any good Irish kid from Pittston, I figured why not own a bar/restaurant? How hard can it be? Boy did I have a lot to learn."

Frog Pond history

In November 2021, Mary Jo Farber Burke decided to sell the business and retire.

"After 24 years in business and one year without my partner, it's time to retire," Burke had posted on her Facebook page. "It's been a great ride. Over the years, we kept many family members employed and enriched our lives with many beautiful people that we now call friends. Through our doors walked the most important people in the world — our customers."

Cahill and Tracy said they continue that philosophy.

Burke and her late husband, Ernest "Butch" Burke purchased the business on Valentine's Day 1997. They also had previously owned Lakeside Pizza at Lake Silkworth.

Burke and her husband bought the Frog Pond from Frank Trinisewski Jr., a former Luzerne County Commissioner. She and Butch remodeled the place and expanded it, creating dining space for 100 people. The Frog Pond has always been known for its food, especially pizza and chicken wings.

Burke said she and Butch named the place the Frog Pond because Mary Jo enjoyed collecting frog memorabilia — frog statues, porcelain frogs, etc. She said Butch just came up with the name. And, Burke said, at one time across Coal Street there was a pond where kids would go to catch "froggies."

Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.