Author: Sierra Jiminez
Date: November 2010
People: Mark Mondo, Robert Costa
Fun facts: Mondo's dream job would be to be a doctor. His ancestry is Italian, and Italy is his dream country, too. If he had one more wish: For his dad to come visit one more time.
Data points: According to the city Chamber of Commerce, the Top 5 employers in Central New York (2008) were: 1. SUNY Upstate Medical University 6,717; 2. Syracuse University 6,504; 3. Wegmans 4,100; 4. St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center 3,046; 5. Crouse Hospital: 2,700.
For more than 50 years, Mondo’s Self-Service gas station has been famous for its hospitality on the South Side of Syracuse.
Since he was 12, Mark Mondo has been pumping gas, selling scratch-offs and greeting customers with his jolly laugh and smile. Now, at 54, Mondo is the proud owner of the family store. “I’m still waiting for my retirement package,” he jokes.
Located just off South Salina Street, on the edge of Syracuse’s South Side and the downtown area, Mondo’s brings in a large customer base from the South Side. Every morning customers sit at the small fold-out table and chairs at the entrance of the tiny store. Some have been customers since Mondo’s father owned the station.
“In the 1950s, it was a predominantly white neighborhood. And the area’s sort of changed,” said Robert Costa, a loyal friend and customer of the Mondo family who visits the store on his way to work every morning.
But change has never frightened Mark Mondo.
“Being in the inner city, it can be a little harder than if you’re in the suburbs,” Mondo said. “But to me, it’s nothing. People are people.”
It’s that attitude that keeps Mondo’s customers coming back. He is one of the few businessmen in the city who still use the I.O.U. system.
“If people need $10 worth of gas, I say, ‘Here, sign this slip and bring me the money when you’ve got it,’ ” he said. “You get to know your customers and you trust them.”