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Veroni Cafe reopens for carryout customers

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Cinco de Mayo was more celebratory than usual this year for Monica Mata and her sister.

The two run Veroni Cafe at 12 W. King St. in downtown Chambersburg. There, they create Mexican food using recipes from their mother and grandmother.



CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Cinco de Mayo was more celebratory than usual this year for Monica Mata and her sister.

The two run Veroni Cafe at 12 W. King St. in downtown Chambersburg. There, they create Mexican food using recipes from their mother and grandmother.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of all nonlife-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania at the end of March, so Mata and Neftali Bitner stopped making the large quantities of tacos, nachos, burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas they had been serving to their customers since July 25, 2016.

“I’m here 24/7. For me to close was really hard,” said Mata, 29, of Chambersburg.

They shuttered the 25-seat restaurant throughout April, but their patrons didn’t forget them.

Mata said people kept calling, and sending text messages and emails to check on their welfare and wondering when they could look forward to eating Veroni’s appetizers, entrees and desserts again. She was touched by the community support and how so many said they missed the restaurant and staff.


The sisters tried to come up with ways to continue processing orders without opening their restaurant, but they didn’t have an alternate cooking space to accommodate such volume.


When it’s easy to be wrapped up in personal frustrations and worries, “they’re actually thinking of you,” Mata said. “Our customers kept asking” when the eatery would reopen.

The answer was May 4, the eve of Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that honors the day in 1862 when the Mexican army prevailed over France at the Battle of Puebla. In the United States, May 5 is a date to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage.

Customers are invited to call/text the restaurant or go to VeroniCafePa.square.site to place carryout orders. Their food is prepared by the siblings, then served through a window that faces an alley on the side of the building.

“We have been busy,” Mata said after preparing an order for a customer on a recent Monday afternoon. “We’re glad we’re back.”

Sam Thrush, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., noticed more activity downtown after Veroni reopened.


“We’ve seen a little bit more bustle,” said Thrush, who has continued to mention Veroni in marketing efforts to keep the public thinking about shopping and eating downtown, and recently did a Facebook Live interview with Mata.

He added that a recent order he placed with the restaurant was ready early and tasted fantastic.

Mata and Bitner are serving everything on their menu and plan to start offering Friday specials. The big sellers right now are the Veroni Cafe Burrito, filled with steak, chorizo, rice, beans and lots of cheese; the Cheesy Burrito; Veroni Taco, which includes steak, onions, jalapenos, sour cream, salsa and cheese; and traditional steak tacos.

Veroni Cafe is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. The sisters arrive at 8 a.m. to start preparing the food, but the time they leave depends on how many later orders they receive.

The family involvement extends beyond Mata and Bitner, 35, who lives in Shippensburg, Pa. Their mother, Veronica Campos, who lives locally, and grandmother, Jovita Hernandez of Mexico, provided the recipes that are the core of the food made at the cafe.

“It’s what we ate when we were little,” Mata said.

The matriarchs approve of the food served at Veroni, and Campos provides feedback on new recipes.

“She’s a lot of help behind the scenes,” Mata said of Campos, adding that she tastes recipes they are considering trying and offers suggestions about how to perfect them.

Campos’ influence shows in the name of the restaurant, as well. Her first name also is a verb describing a bullfighting move in which a matador holds a cape out and pivots slowly as a bull charges past. Campos’ father was a bullfighter in his youth, and the image on the restaurant’s sign is in honor of him. Also,the first part of her name, “Veroni” is the first word in the restaurant’s moniker and the“ca” at the end is the beginning of the word “cafe.” “Fe” means “faith” in Spanish and represents “the faith you put in everything you do,” Mata said.

To place an order, go to VeroniCafePa.square.site; or call/send a text message to 717-494-5354.


For more information, go to the website; find Veroni Cafe on Facebook; or email Veronicafe.pa@yahoo.com.


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Downtown Chambersburg Inc. © 2018

717-264-7101          100 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg, PA 17201

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