In 1949, Tom and Anna Torch decided to open a confectionery 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 Confectionery. Tom and Anna’s confectionery 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 centerpiece for their business. They decided to call it a “fishbowl” because of its 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 Mark and Karen Furfari. During their 20 years of ownership, Mark and Karen renovated the kitchen to expand the food offerings, updated the draft beer system to expand the drink offerings, and added a large outdoor patio for customers to enjoy their frosty fishbowl in the sun, all while maintaining the original nostalgia of The Fishbowl. In
July 2012, The Fishbowl opened a second location on University Avenue in the Suncrest neighborhood.
When they decided to retire in July of 2017, Mark and Karen passed the business on to a group of their long-time managers. Between the five of them, they have over 65 years of experience as part of the Mario’s Fishbowl family. As a new generation of owners, their top priority is preserving the tradition of Mario’s Fishbowl while continuing to provide the residents and visitors of Morgantown with delicious food, top quality service, and, as nearly seven decades of customers have come to expect, the coldest beer in town.
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