By Jeff Clemetson
For 40 years, Sanfilippo’s Pizza has welcomed guests into its family-style restaurant with red-and-white-checkered table cloths, bottles of Chianti in straw baskets hanging from the ceiling and a lighted sign above its doors promising that it is “Open 7 Days.”
That four-decade run, however, will soon be over.
The Sanfilippo family has put the building at 8141 La Mesa Blvd. up for sale and the property is currently in escrow, said manager Dora Calcutt, who is also the daughter of owner Anna Sanfilippo. The restaurant plans to remain open “until the very last day,” which will likely be sometime in October or November, she said.
Calcutt, who has worked at the family restaurant since she was in high school, credits the restaurant’s longevity to its “great food and great customers.”
Anna Sanfilippo, who opened the restaurant with her husband Donato, said her family’s hard work and commitment to the La Mesa community have been key to the restaurant’s success over the years.
“We came here to do a job,” she said. “We did a good job. We met many friends, met many customers and we’d like to, before we close the doors, thank all of our customers for the good times and good business over the years.”
Along with Donato’s passing, Calcutt said the decision to close the restaurant was spurred by a weakened economy and a lengthy construction project along La Mesa Boulevard that discouraged customers from coming to the pizzeria.
“It was a killer,” she said.
Business was far from dead on a recent Wednesday night after news of the restaurant’s sale became more widely known. Two customers, Rich and Donna Shaw, said they were sad that it would be “the last time we’ll be eating here.”
The Shaws, who are from Las Vegas, said they discovered Sanfilippo’s a couple years ago and visit the restaurant whenever they are in town. They come to the pizzeria for the “community feel” and the “real Italian food.” The food reminds Donna Shaw of the old-school Italian restaurants in her home city of Chicago.
Sanfilippo said customers like the Shaws return to her family’s restaurant because of the philosophy her husband set out to instill in the business: “good food, good portions and a good staff.”
—Jeff Clemetson is a contributing writer. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.