The Early Years
In 1949, Tom and Anna Torch decided to open a confectionary in their Woodburn neighborhood.
They initially rented a small retail store just up the street from the current location. After a successful first year, Tom and Anna purchased a small piece of property, and he and his two brothers built the block building that stands today.
In July of 1950 they opened the Richwood Avenue Confectionary. Tom and Anna’s confectionary had a luncheon counter. They also sold groceries, ice cream to the kids and had beer on tap for mom and pop. The Torches purchased large Weiss goblets from Morgantown Glass Works on Beechurst Avenue (now the Seneca Center). These goblets were used to serve the beer.
In 1963, due to Tom’s passing, Anna sold the store to Rose and Mario Spina.
The Spina’s discovered that the large goblet was a really fascinating glass. They decided to call it a “fishbowl” because of it’s large size . Customers really went for it because at the time, a large fishbowl of beer was only 35 cents which made it the biggest and coldest beer in town… and it still is today.
Many of the customers were and still are WVU students. Back then, the students would typically challenge their friends to fun contests. They’d see how fast they could drink a big beer, or how many hot dogs, pickles, or burgers they could eat at one time. Today, the walls at the Fishbowl are covered with over five decades of signs proclaiming eating and drinking records.
Mario and Rose operated the Fishbowl until January of 1997 when they turned over the business to it’s current owners, Mark and Karen Furfari. As the owners of Mario’s Fishbowl, they strive to maintain the original feel of the confectionary, but have also expanded the food and drink offerings to what you see on the menu today.
The Fishbowl Today
Mark and Karen strive to maintain the original feel of the confectionery.
The food and drink offerings have expanded, updates have been made to the kitchen and necessary improvements have been made in main seating area for safety and fire code reasons, but maintaining the nostalgia of the Fishbowl is always the top priority.
On January 9, 2007 the Furfaris celebrated their 10th Anniversary as owners of Mario’s Fishbowl.
While the day was filled with good friends, fun and great memories, there was a sadness to the day with the passing of Mario Spina on Sunday, January 7, 2007.
Before the drawings began at 10 p.m., there was a moment of silence and then a Fishbowl toast to Mario. Rest in peace, Mario. We will think of you often.