Rich Howells

Scranton Chamber of Commerce will host virtual ‘dinner’ with $125+ tickets

Scranton Chamber of Commerce will host virtual ‘dinner’ with $125+ tickets
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After rescheduling its annual dinner from March 31 to June 17, the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce has announced that it will move the event “to a virtual platform to ensure the safety of the guests and staff,” a first for the 152-year-old tradition.

In a May 27 press release, the not-for-profit organization said that the decision wasn’t easy to make, but the staff is “planning a one-of-a-kind event via Zoom with exciting entertainment, prizes, networking opportunities, and a few surprises that guests won’t be expecting.” It will also “feature more than 40 member restaurants” and a “year-in-review with perspective on moving forward to revive NEPA.”

“A virtual annual dinner will provide us the opportunity to come together in a new and unique way. Although it’s not our typical annual celebration, we promise our members a show for all ages that everyone can enjoy,” Chamber President Bob Durkin said in the release.

At the Scranton Chamber’s annual dinner at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton last year, the keynote speaker was Matt Higgins, vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins and a guest investor on the hit ABC television show “Shark Tank.”

The upcoming 152nd annual dinner on Wednesday, June 17 starts with virtual networking at 5:30 p.m., followed by a virtual “Celebration of Business” show from 6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Tickets, which are $125 for chamber members and $150 for nonmember guests, are on sale now at

“We are excited to celebrate our member businesses in a new way. It will be an innovative experience for everyone,” board chair Pat Fricchione said. “There may even be new opportunities for guests to make connections they may not have encountered from an in-person event.”

The announcement that the event is going digital this year comes during a difficult time for Scranton businesses, many of which are still closed or open for “takeout only” due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lackawanna County is considered a “red zone” where only life-sustaining businesses can operate, and Governor Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home orders are still in effect through June 4, though restrictions are slowly being lifted.

Most of Pennsylvania will be shifting into the yellow phase by Friday, but Lackawanna County will remain red until June 5. According to the Pennsylvania National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, Lackawanna County currently has 1,516 documented cases of COVID-19, causing 163 deaths.

During the shutdown, some small Scranton restaurants like Blue Bee Bistro and The Wandering Hen Cafe and Market have closed permanently. Yesterday, chamber member Terra Preta Prime revealed that it was shuttering its doors as well. Originally opened as Carl von Luger Steak & Seafood in 2011, the downtown Scranton business later changed its name to Carl’s Prime and then merged with the nearby Terra Preta Restaurant in 2018 to form Terra Preta Prime.

“After much thoughtful deliberation and conversation with those close to us we have concluded that we cannot sustain our business any longer. Our gratitude goes out to our amazing team and staff, our purveyors, suppliers and loyal customers and friends. We write this goodbye letter with tears in our eyes as a small restaurant family is out of business. My family and I have dedicated much of our time and all of our love to create a special place in downtown Scranton where people feel welcomed in a safe, clean space [and] can enjoy a delicious meal with friendly service. We had much more to give, but the circumstances did not support us right now,” Prime owner Bob Dickert and his family posted on Facebook.

“We feel as though we have been instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Scranton, opening Carl von Luger’s in 2011. We were told that ‘People don’t come downtown to eat, especially for fine dining.’ Well, as those who know me can attest to, I never let people get in the way of my dreams. I’m a risk taker and the restaurant industry is in my blood, which means I’m passionately committed to my craft. When we opened up Terra Preta in 2014, we were told that ‘People don’t know what farm to table is,’ but we knew that this was an important part of our industry and was needed in our community. We always have been committed to our community and we will miss you all!”

As other Northeastern Pennsylvania businesses prepare to reopen, the Scranton Chamber recently launched its #reviveNEPA campaign to provide resources, health and safety guidelines, signage, financial assistance, and more to local businesses.

Before the pandemic, the chamber planned to debut a video at the annual dinner on March 31 called “Vision 2020, a celebration of our community, quality of life, a thriving economy, and the resiliency of our people.” The video was shared online on April 1 instead:

Photo by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene