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Mark Szilagyi Jr.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the last interview I had the opportunity to do face-to-face was in March. In upcoming weeks, one of the 126 weekly interviews that were previously published will be shared with readers. This article was originally published on April 8, 2018.

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 employee’s kids, their pay was a good lunch. At 14, Mark became a cashier. After graduating from Devon Prep, he attended the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia for six years.

The Gateway has two generations behind the counter. Hope I get this right ... 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 prescription revenue has lost a significant amount of business. As a small business, it is difficult to compete with large drugstore chains. Through it all, they have given their best to their customers and provide top-notch service to the community. Over the years, you can actually follow their growth 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 conscientious about getting and staying healthy. He can be found at the gym in his free time. He likes food and especially eating. 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

Olive/coconut oil

1 can black beans

1 bag brown minute rice

1½ cups chunky salsa

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. onion powder

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

hot sauce to taste

salt & pepper to taste

Over medium-heat pour oil into pot. Drain beans slightly (as you want some bean water) – add to hot pot. Microwave the brown rice. Add in chili powder & onion powder as well as hot sauce & salsa to your taste. Drain water off of rice – combine rice & black bean mixture all together – mix & heat through. Turn off heat – add half of cheese & mix in. Serve with remaining cheese on top. Salt & pepper to taste according to individual taste.

ENJOY!

UPDATE: In the two years since the original interview appeared, Mark is still a “Local Good Neighbor Pharmacist” at the Gateway. Mark & Michele still live in West Conhohocken. They no longer call themselves “roommates” as they got married. They are expecting a baby in September. There no gender reveal — they are going to wait to see if it's a boy or a girl.

Contact columnist Bette Banjack at banjack303.verizon.net. Search YouTube – with BetteBanjack as well as phoenixvillenews.com (search bar Banjack). She can also be found on Facebook.

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