On any given summer night, a crowd of mostly families forms at a little, roadside restaurant and ice cream parlor in Maidencreek Township.
The scene is nothing new — undoubtedly a custom for many — though the name on the sign outside and much within has changed.
In May, the former CeGee's Drive-In at 833 Park Road reopened as Fiore's Chill-n-Grill Cafe, with an updated menu, renovated interior and, of course, additional outdoor seating.
If the name sounds familiar, it's probably no coincidence. Husband and wife owners Giuseppe and Candace Fiore also run Fiore's Italian Family Restaurant & Pizzeria just a few minutes drive down the road in Fleetwood.
Fiore's is an institution in central Berks County, approaching 30 years in business in April.
"We always wanted to open an ice cream shop," said Giuseppe. "Then this opportunity comes around."
Building on tradition
After 15 seasons serving the area, CeGee's announced it would not reopen in 2020 and the property was for sale.
With their own restaurant consuming so much of their time, the Fiores said they were unaware of the extent to which CeGee's established a following over a decade-and-a-half.
"We're used to working 11-, 12-hour days," said Candace. "We don't get out that much."
Still, Fiore's Chill-n-Grill Cafe continues or builds upon many of the elements that made CeGee's popular, with Giuseppe adding his "personal touch" to the restaurant and its menu.
"We remodeled the whole place inside and gave it a fresh look," said Giuseppe, with Candace adding that her husband "loves to decorate."
"It's my own design, my own style and decor," he said. "We got the whole place cleaned up and remodeled the way I like it."
The outdoor patio seating area is also revamped at the Chill-n-Grill — a must for diners conscious of social distancing.
"That was something we had already ordered before they closed down the dining rooms," said Candace. "It wasn't because of COVID-19, but then we saw it really worked."
Something old, something new
Much of the grill menu remains the same, the Fiores maintain, with some additions — though the Coney Island hot dogs and burgers that were CeGee's calling card are gone.
But if you like the food at Fiore's Italian Family Restaurant, you should enjoy the quality and selection here, as well as the reasonable prices. The most expensive item costs $8.50.
"We use the same products like we have at the restaurant," said Giuseppe. "Same steak sandwiches, same burgers.
"We don't cut corners. We just try to make everybody happy and give people a good place to eat something they like at an affordable price."
Most important, the frozen dessert menu has expanded too.
Soft serve remains the ice cream of choice, with traditional vanilla and chocolate joined by a rotating flavor — currently raspberry — as well as sundaes and milkshakes.
The Chill-n-Grill offers its share of unique treats, however, such as fresh, homemade waffle cones, frozen chocolate-dipped bananas and over 40 varieties of granitas, a Sicilian water ice dessert.
"The flavoring for the granitas contains actual fruit and vitamins and are low-sugar products," said Candace.
The present and the future
While CeGee's was open seasonally, the goal is to keep Fiore's Chill-n-Grill Cafe open year-round, provided the demand is there.
Given the reputation the Fiores have established, it's not unthinkable customers will stop by for an inexpensive lunch or dinner or an ice cream cone during the dead of winter.
Candace stressed they're a locally owned, family-run business, with their son, Francesco Fiore, serving as general manager of the Chill-n-Grill and clearly being groomed for a larger role.
They're also taking the coronavirus seriously, she said, noting Fiore's Italian Family Restaurant remains open for takeout only.
"We recently renovated our restaurant's dining room and haven't even been using it," said Candace.
While Fiore's Chill-n-Grill does offer some indoor seating, the family believes it's taking all of the proper precautions — and that their cleanliness and attention to detail are part of what keep customers coming back.
"We're very particular about our food," said Giuseppe, "and we're proud of what we're doing."