By JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
A Jackson Heights family business destroyed in a fire is getting new life.
Frank’s Pharmacy sat in the Brunson Building at 37th Avenue and 75th Street, until a fire swept through the building in April. According to the FDNY, the fire was accidental.
Owner Frank Buonagurio said losing his shop – which sat in the Brunson Building since 2001 – was “devastating.”
“We never anticipated anything like that, never,” he said. “Basically, I was being asked to make a decision about the rest of my life. After 23 years, what do you do?”
Frank’s Pharmacy is one of the longstanding family businesses in the area. Buonagurio opened the shop at a smaller Jackson Heights location in 1991 and his father Frank Sr., just retiring from the Manhattan restaurant business, joined the team as a greeter at the pharmacy. Buonagurio’s twin sister Grace has also worked at Frank’s Pharmacy as a bookkeeper.
Jerry Crisci, a friend of Buonagurio and his family, owned another Brunson Building business destroyed in the fire. Crisci said that his restaurant, Armando’s Italian, stood at that location for more than four decades.
“Frank is a great guy,” Crisci said. “He’s one of those old fashioned type guys who delivered to you even if you didn’t pay your bills.”
“I’m so glad that he got a spot,” Crisci added. “For a small business to survive, it’s very difficult when you’ve lost everything.”
Crisci said he is still searching for a place to relocate Armando’s Italian, which he had hoped to run for another five or six years until the fire.
According to Buonagurio, as he was contemplating his next steps after the fire, n
eighbors and customers throughout Jackson Heights would continually ask him when Frank’s Pharmacy was returning.
“So I gathered myself up and I said, ‘OK, let’s go, let’s try,’” Buonagurio said.
The new Frank’s Pharmacy location is at 77-01 37th Avenue. For Buonagurio, reopening here has special significance as the spot where he had his first pharmacy job, at what was then Maram Pharmacy.
“So it’s a return to where I started,” Buonagurio said.
Frank’s Pharmacy will reopen in late Septemb
er, after renovations finish and the State Board of Pharmacy issues its approval. A grand reopening is scheduled for Sept. 20.
“I’m excited about it,” Buonagurio said. “I can’t wait to get back to work.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.