All About Us
The Boys - My grandfather Anastasios (Ernie) in 1940, my dad Charlie in 1966 and me in 1995.
n search of the “money that grows on trees in America”, my grandfather Anastasos (Ernest) and his cousin came here from a small mountainside village in Greece in 1912. Anastasos ended up in Gettysburg and in 1921 opened a lunch counter called “Texas Hot Weenies” at 55 Chambersburg St. (now A & A Treasures), opposite our present location.
With his big personality and quick wit, “Ernie” and his new eatery were popular instantly. In 1927, he moved his hot dog shop to 62 Chambersburg St. (now Battlefield Brew Works). After Prohibition was repealed he moved up two doors to 58, our present location. He needed more space for the tables required for a beer license.
When Ernie died unexpectedly in 1953, his son Charlie ran the business for his mother. He would eventually take it over and in the middle 60’s change the name to “Charlie’s Texas Lunch”. Charlie had twin sons, Rick and me, Ernie. I am named for my grandfather. We always knew it as “the restaurant” and both worked summers for Pop when we were teenagers. Rick went off to college in 1974 and I chose to stay at the restaurant full time and maybe take over someday.
In 1981 Pop was ready to retire. So we decided I would take over, renting from him for a few years. I married Linda in 1982 and in 1984 we bought the restaurant. It took a few years before I was comfortable changing the name but soon enough it was “Ernie’s Texas Lunch” again. Linda and I ran it together until she passed in 2014.
The layout of the dining area has not changed in over 80 years. The menu is still basic diner fare featuring of course, the “Texas Hot Wiener” that my grandfather opened with almost a century ago.
I have rarely known anyone in my family to shy away from a party, apparently that goes back a few generations.
The incident described in this front page article from 1923 happened when Ernie was across the street in his original location. The "Eagle Hotel" was an impressive building, granite and very ornate. It stood where "7-11" is now and filled the entire parking lot. "Texas Hot Weenies" was right next door, now "A & A Treasures".
According to family lore, Ernie moved across the street in 1927 for more space.
It would seem the Eagle Hotel manager may have encouraged the move.
Three Kranias's - Visiting in 1960, Jim, center, hams it up with my dad Charlie, left, and Tommy, in the shades. Jim's dad, Bill and my grandfather, Ernie were cousins. They came from Greece together in 1912.
Note the reflection of the "Eagle Hotel" in the Texas Lunch's windows. It was across the street where 7-11 is now, and would be destroyed by fire later that year.
In the mid 1930's, my grandfather, Ernie and his family went back to his village in Greece, Bezoula. It is 4 hours northwest of Athens. He and my grandmother Emily and their children, my pop Charlie and my aunt Mary Lou, spent 6 months there.
During the visit, Ernie grew close to his nephew, Thomas. According to family lore, he really thought Tommy was a "good boy". A decade or so later, he helped Tommy come to Gettysburg, and gave him a job at the Texas Lunch.
Tommy was a fun personality, with a deep appreciation for the opportunity he had been given. He, like my grandfather and father, became very popular in Gettysburg. He worked tirelessly at the Texas Lunch, treating the business and its customers as though they were his. He was well known for his friendly way, his fun sense of humor and more for his natural cooking talents. He had a great business feel, and a special compassion for the people who worked with and for him.
In 1973, after almost 20 years at the Texas Lunch, Tommy took a chance and left to open "Tommy's Pizza". It quickly became one of the most popular pizza places in the area, a testament to his hard work, talents and popularity. But mostly "Tommy's" was and still is successful because the pizza is simply the best. I may be prejudiced, but most people agree with me. It's the best.
Tommy's daughter Cathy and her husband Bill took over Tommy's in the early 80's. Recently, their sons Drew and Wade bought the restaurant from them, celebrating 3 generations of success.
Wade and Drew are opening "Fourscore Beer Company", a dream of theirs for years. They learned the hard work and dedication of the restaurant business from 2 generations of the best, and success has followed them.