Mark Szilagyi Jr. is one of your “local good neighbor pharmacists” at the Gateway Pharmacy. Over the years, he was my mom’s pharmacist via the telephone. We spoke often; as the Gateway delivers, we seldom saw each other. It was during the ribbon-cutting of Teresa O’Neill Haag’s wall mural on the side of the Gateway building that we actually spoke of other things besides medications.
The original Gateway dates back to the 1950s. Along with drugs, sundries and other items, there was a soda fountain and a jukebox. Local teenagers were known to spend a lot of time there after school.
In 1982, Mark Sr. and Henry Katra purchased the business and the building.
At the age of 8, Mark Jr. started his career at the Gateway, stocking shelves. Along with some other employees’ kids, their pay was a good lunch. At 14, Mark became a cashier. After graduating from Devon Prep, he attended University of Science for six years.
The Gateway has two generations behind the counter. All four of the Szilagyi family are pharmacists, along with an aunt and two uncles. Henry and his wife are pharmacists as well. In fact, the first generation all went to school together.
The Gateway believes in serving the community and the surrounding areas. Recently, due to changes and monopolies of health insurance companies and plans, the Gateway’s prescription revenue has lost a significant amount of business. As a small business, it is difficult to compete with large drug chains. Through it all, they have given their best to their customers and provide top-notch service to the community. You can actually follow their growth over the years as additions have been added to the original building.
It was a little difficult to separate Mark Jr. and the Gateway as he spends so much time there. He spent his years growing up in Chester Springs. Today, he commutes from his home in West Conshohocken to Phoenixville. He and his lady, Michele Mullin, have been together for two years. They jokingly called each other “roommates.”
Mark is very concious of getting and staying healthy. He can be found at the gym in his free time. Mark is the cook in the household, whereas Michele likes eating but not cooking.
As Mark is always on the go; here is a favorite recipe he likes to make — quick, easy, tasty.
10-MINUTE BEANS & RICE
1 can black beans
1 bag brown minute rice
1½ cups chunky salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Hot sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Over medium-heat, pour oil into pot. Drain beans slightly (as you want some bean water), and add to hot pot. Microwave the brown rice. Add in chili powder and onion powder, as well as hot sauce and salsa to your taste. Drain water off of rice. Combine rice and black bean mixture all together. Mix and heat through. Turn off heat. Add half of cheese, and mix in. Serve with remaining cheese on top. Salt and pepper to taste according to individual taste.
Let Bette Banjack hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well phoenixvillenews.com (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.