Frank Grande, the outgoing owner of Casa Grande Pizzeria, was hoping whoever bought the building housing his West End Italian eatery would maintain the space as a restaurant.
While the selling agent Frank Zappia said that does not look like it will be the case, he said the sale of the building is a positive thing for the Grande family.
Unlike countless restaurants struggling for their survival in the midst of the pandemic, the fate of Casa Grande was decided long before the virus was top of mind for everyone.
Grande has health issues and put the business and the building up for sale before COVID-19 hit. The restaurant will be serving its last pizzas and pastas this weekend.
"The only reason they are selling is that Frank (Grande) has had health issues for a while," Zappia said. "It had nothing to do with COVID."
Zappia said the selling price was close to what they were looking for.
Unfortunately it looks like it will no longer be a restaurant, according to Zappia.
"The building is not going to be taken down. The new owners are going to update it and probably redesign it a bit, not too much, and change the use to office," Zappia said. "The second floor is basically set up as an office anyway even though it was a restaurant. It is easily changeable."
Zappia said he grew up down the street from Casa Grande and his brothers and cousins all worked there over the years.
"They have been there forever," Zappia said. "It hurts a little that the restaurant is leaving because it was such a staple."
The Grande family ran Casa Grande for 44 years. The family moved to Winnipeg in the mid-1960s and Grande and his brother Tony cut their teeth at restaurants in the West End before deciding to open up their own at 984 Sargent Ave. The pair purchased the two-storey, 2,300-square-foot restaurant in 1976 and retrofitted the former breakfast spot into the traditional Italian eatery that has become a multi-generational destination.
But Zappia said the sale has worked out quite well for the family.
"I think they are quite happy overall,’ he said. "I don’t know if the neighbourhood is though."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.