I can’t let this weekend go by without saying something about a man that meant a lot to me. So many things have rushed through my head over the last 4 days. Memories that I will carry with me the rest of my life. Some happy, some sad, some that you just shake your head and say “nobody is gonna believe that!” Lol.
Almost 34 years ago a man gave me an opportunity that completely changed my life forever. An opportunity that many wish for, but never get the chance to make it happen! That man was Frank Perilli. A tough, hard working business man that dedicated his life to taking care of his family. Many of you know who Frank was but many do not. You’ve heard your mom or your dad or your grandparents talk about Genes and all the great memories they have of going there growing up in Morgantown.
February 1st, 1985 was the day I started my journey as the new owner of Genes. It was cold, it was snowing and it was a dark lonely place as I sat there with 2 customers chatting back and forth saying “you picked a great day to buy a bar!” Hahaha!! Shortly there after the front door opens and in walks Frank. He says, “come here Al and sit down with me. I want to talk to you!” I sat there for about an hour and listened to Frank share 41 years of knowledge on how to run that place. He genuinely wanted me to succeed and he took it upon himself to give me every opportunity to do so. Up until that point I really only knew Frank as a tough businessman. Willing to do whatever it takes to support his family. 10 hours a day, behind the bar, sweat on his upper lip, glasses sliding down his nose, hustling up and down that bar pouring beers and making hot dogs!! Occasionally flashing a smile and a little laugh! Going home at night working on the books, paying bills and thinking about what needed done come 8am the next morning.
Frank owed me nothing. I was 28 years old and had somehow found my way into my dream. I had no clue what to do from that point but luckily here was Frank sitting here and showing me the roadmap to success. Did I follow the road the way he told me? No. Did I think there was an easier way? Yes. Was there? Absolutely not!!! I made lots of mistakes. I didn’t take care of the money. He said, “put the money in the bank everyday. Don’t leave it in your pocket. There are holes in your pocket and it won’t be there when you need it!”
It was during these times I found out that Frank was more than just a tough businessman. He was a caring and compassionate man who truly did care about me and my success. He would say to me “Al Bonner you are a lucky man! You have a nice family. You take care of those little girls! That’s what matters in life!! Other than his family, I don’t know if anyone else knew Frank that way!?
I am “a lucky man” Frank! You gave me a life changing opportunity to own my dream and an opportunity to know you like so few people ever did!!! Thank you Frank Perilli for giving me the opportunity to have you in my life. A friend, a mentor and a man who was always willing to help me and want nothing more than for me to succeed. I will miss you Frank!