PITTSTON — Palazzo 53 was known for its fine dining and comfortable setting, but it won’t be serving either anymore.
The local establishment, located at 53 S. Main St., closed its doors earlier this month, and, according toMain Street Manager Rose Randazzo, the decision was made because owner Beth Barcia wants to to spend time with her family.
Barcia, who did not return calls seeking comment, announced the restaurant’s closing on Facebook a few weeks ago. The announcement was accompanied by a picture of her and Randazzo, and Barcia thanked Randazzo for bringing her into the city 17 years ago.
“17 years ago the woman on my right, Rose Randazzo, brought me to Main Street Pittston,” the Clarks Summit resident wrote on her Facebook page. “At that time, Pittston looked much different than it does today. However, her vision and passion for her hometown was infectious and I️ found myself committing to a new business in the heart of the downtown. 17 years later, so much has changed — the city, the building, my business, my life. I️ am extremely proud of all that we accomplished during my time on Main Street.
“Now, it is time for that chapter of my life to end. As of Saturday, Nov. 18 Palazzo 53 has closed for business. I️ have had the great fortune of amazing staff who have become my second family, fantastic customers and city support — which made us a great success. I️ will cherish my time in Pittston and thank everyone who supported me and Palazzo 53!”
Randazzo said the revitalization in downtown Pittston started with Palazzo 53, as the restaurant opened at a time when old buildings were being demolished rather than refurbished.
“It was a time in the city where they were demolishing old structures,” Randazzo said. “It (the building that housed Palazzo 53) was very close to being condemnable and we couldn’t stand to see it be demolished. So, we bought it and opened a bar called Indigo, but all of us had day jobs. It was a very taxing thing.”
Randazzo met Barcia and her former husband, Chris, when they owned a deli in West Pittston. Randazzo often went there for lunch and asked the couple about opening a business in the city. The rest is history.
“I was always impressed with Beth and Chris,” Randazzo said. “So, when we were deciding what to do with the building and Indigo, I asked them if they ever thought about opening a restaurant and they said it was their dream. I showed them the building and they immediately loved it at first sight.”
The couple opened a restaurant called Christopher’s, but closed it a few years later to start a family. It operated under several other tenants, but after their children got older, the Barcias took control of the restaurant once more in 2010 and named it Palazzo 53.
It served as a New York Style restaurant that was open in the evenings, and Randazzo said it brought in customers from outside the Greater Pittston area.
City mayor-elect Mike Lombardo called Palazzo 53 “a mouse trap.”
“It was a new mouse trap to bring people in to eat food, and then see what else is going on downtown,” he said. “People who were frequent flyers would comment to people in the city that they couldn’t believe what happened in four or five months and how much the city has improved.”
After the Barcias separated, Beth continued to run the restaurant with Sharon Carfora, who worked as a hostess at the business since its opening. Carfora retired earlier this year.
With Barcia choosing to spend time with her family, Lombardo commends the work she put into her restaurant, the city, and also making the hard decision to step away for family.
“I respect Beth’s decision,” he said. “I made the same decision when I didn’t want to rerun for mayor all those years ago, because I was in the same situation with my kids. I applaud the passion that she put into Palazzo.”
The restaurant was sold to Nancy Medico, owner of Sakari Salon in Forty Fort, which Randazzo said is a “win-win for everyone.”
Medico did not return calls seeking comment but, according to Michelle Mikitish, executive vice president of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, Medico will open a restaurant of her own at the locastion.
“(I’m told) it’s supposed to be a restaurant,” Mikitish said. “My personal thing is I’m hoping it’s another fine dining establishment. I believe we still need a fine dining establishment downtown. It tends to tie that night life entertainment together.”
Mikitish said Palazzo 53 and the Chamber had a great partnership, and she knows its closing will create a void in the city.
“We’re going to miss it,” she said. “Palazzo was a big supporter of the City of Pittston, big supporters of the chamber, and we loved working with them. My husband and I and friends went there several times for dinner and other special occasions. We’re really going to miss them.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher