For the last 66 years, North Denver has attracted Italian food lovers to its historic restaurant, Pagliacci’s. The restaurant has a rich heritage, as it has been family-run for five generations. It is known for incredibly delicious food such as its seven-layer lasagna and minestrone soup, the latter of which has been described by North Denver resident and BBB employee as, “to-die-for!” Sadly, August 19 is its last day of service.
The restaurant’s history dates back to the 1940s when its founder, Frank Grandinetti was a Sicilian produce vendor in Denver. The story goes that he and his wife, Thelma’s romance led to the birth of their beloved restaurant in 1946. From that moment on, the restaurant has been a symbol of tradition, strong work ethic and unity for the family.
In response to a recent Denver Post blog, the daughter of current owner, Rose Langston recently reflected on how the restaurant’s story is one of hard-working, influential women. “It’s hard to explain how much this business taught me and my siblings,” she said. “All four of my mom’s children have an extremely strong work ethic. This is the result of not only working from a young age, but also by watching how hard our mom has worked for the past 40 years. She went fifteen years without a day off.”
This kind of sentiment shows how meaningful a deep-rooted family business can be to not only the family, but to its customers as well. Since news broke of the restaurant’s closing, numerous customers have reacted with fond memories of the restaurant and sadness of its closing.
Customers and residents are not only reacting to losing Pagliacci’s but to the plans of its replacement: a five-story apartment complex. The new real estate is reportedly expected to contain retail on its first level and apartments above.
“This is awful. Another landmark of Italian Denver gone. The old sauce joints are dying. And just an awful travesty that they are putting in an apartment building. YUCK!” says one Denver Post blog commenter while another says, “Sad story–no one likes to lose a landmark–but the owners have a right to sell the property and move on with their lives if they so choose.”
I must admit, I am an old soul and somewhat of a history junkie, so I am sad to see this piece of the past torn down and replaced with another apartment complex. I’m not necessarily fond of our charming old neighborhoods being taken over by redevelopments. But for me, the closing of this restaurant is much more sentimental. I am a child of the restaurant world as my parents met while working at a Pizza Hut, and I grew up in the Pizza Hut that my dad managed for many years. Pizza Hut, of course, doesn’t compare to an original restaurant like Pagliacci’s and my family’s restaurant history doesn’t date back several generations. But I can relate to what the family says about learning strong work ethic by growing up in the restaurant environment, working at a young age, and by watching our parents work so hard. I can also relate to the great memories that a restaurant can bring. I was devastated when my dad’s Pizza Hut closed because it was such a great part of my childhood. I even kept one of the Z’s from the Pizza Hut sign.
I do understand though, that almost all good things must come to an end. Since my dad’s retirement from the restaurant industry, he has been successful with his handyman business and his job is much less stressful now. I truly wish the family of Pagliacci’s the best in their next endeavors. Who knows, maybe we can buy some of their legendary minestrone at local supermarkets someday.
When you hear of local landmarks being lost to new real estate developments, how does it make you feel? What do you think of North Denver’s changing neighborhoods? Are they losing their history, or do they have a good balance of the old and new? Do we have to choose between healthy economies and rich histories?