It was one year ago on Tuesday that Basile's Italian Restaurant opened doors in Hometown and the owners say it's been 12 months of hustle and bustle.

"It's been a busy year, including our expansion with the new dining room last October," said Paola Basile.

Basile's had been open just seven months when nightly crowds and waiting lines prompted Paolo and husband Vito to erect a large, 1,000-sq.-ft. Chalet Room with ceramic tile floors, chandeliers and gas fireplace.

It was a big investment that doubled the size of of the facility.

But the owners say it was simply a matter of catering to customers and infusing additional resources to make a good thing even better.

"My idea is to continually put into the restaurant, not to take out," says Vito, who moved to America from Sicily nine years ago with a dream of running his own Italian restaurant.

"Another thing I'd like to do is add a deck," said Vito, explaining that customers have mentioned that it would make for another nice addition. When Vito hears suggestions, he puts the ideas on his "to-do" list and tries to turn them into reality, if possible.

He says listening to customers is important in the restaurant business.

With the snip of a ribbon one year ago, Vito and Paola, along with infant son, Marco, now two, unveiled what was then a 2,800-square foot Basile's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. The establishment is located at 401 Claremont Avenue, along SR309 just north of Wal-Mart in Rush Township. The location once hosted Eddie's Diner. The Basiles purchased the property in March, 2007, and renovated and expanded the building, which includes approximately three acres of land.

The Basiles achieved an airy, open feeling inside the restaurant by incorporating large glass panels so that diners have a view of busy Route 309 as they sit back and relax with a luncheon treat or a full course dinner.

Customers on Saturday night said they've been coming to the place every since it opened.

"I like their veal parmesan," said Bud Comisac, Tamaqua. Comisac and wife Susie were joined by friend Dave Ceci, Hometown, for a night of Italian feasting.

"I never had a bad thing here," said Comisac as hostess Tracey Logan of Ringtown stopped at their table to take their order.

Several tables away, a party of four was being served their salad course.

"We try to get something different every time," said Evelyn Lesniak, Tamaqua. "This is a good location and the staff is very accommodating."

Lesniak was joined by friends Margaret Ruscavage, Lansford, Bernadette Frantz, Hometown, and Samantha Gibbons, Tamaqua.

"Their Pasta Marco is very good and so are the seafood, crabmeat and cream sauce," said Gibbons.

Vito says the first year has been enlightening even after working in the restaurant business in the Philadelphia area for several years. While people are all the same, their dining preferences can vary. He quickly adapted his mode of operation in order to cater to food preferences unique to the Carbon-Schuylkill area.

"People here eat a lot of fish," observed Vito.

The eatery is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, and serves lunch as well as dinner. The restaurant offers plenty of free parking, along with seating for 150 now that the new dining room is up and running. The restaurant features a cocktail bar and is becoming more popular with clubs and social groups as a meeting site and party venue.

"We've already hosted our first wedding," said Paola. In addition, Basile's has accommodated funeral dinners.

The restaurant has quickly become integrated in the community and its owners have stepped forward to contribute to many causes and drives. They believe in being an integral component of activities in the area. For instance, Basile's is a sponsor of the Tamaqua Area High School soccer team.

Vito and Paola expressed gratitude to customers who've made them feel welcome in their first year of business and they welcome local residents to continue to stop by and say hello and to take advantage of the elegant, new dining room.

More information is available at (570) 668-8888.