LANSING – The owners of DeLuca's Restaurant, a local mainstay for the last six decades, have announced plans to sell the business.Though the pandemic
LANSING – The owners of DeLuca’s Restaurant, a local mainstay for the last six decades, have announced plans to sell the business.
Though the pandemic presented real challenges for the restaurant, forcing it to close it for the first extended period ever, John DeLuca, the restaurant’s vice president, said that wasn’t at the heart of the decision to sell.
His family has been debating the decision for the last six months, DeLuca said. They announced their plans on the restaurant’s Facebook page Sunday afternoon.
“Believe me, this isn’t an easy decision,” DeLuca, 69, said. “To be truthful, I don’t know where the years went. They just went right by. I’ve walked out of that back door so many times and wondered, ‘When will it be the last time I walk out that door?'”
The family-run Italian restaurant on West Willow Street opened in 1960. DeLuca’s pizza is a Lansing favorite, known for its house-made sauce on a buttery crust, covered generously with toppings and lots of cheese.
That recipe evolved over years of listening to customer requests. It started with John DeLuca’s father, Pasquale “Pat” DeLuca, who immigrated to the U.S. from southern Italy in the late 1930s.
He arrived in Durand by train and spent his first night in Michigan sleeping in a ditch after the person he thought was picking him up didn’t show.
By the time he bought the empty building at 2006 W. Willow St., Pat DeLuca was married to his wife, Helen, and they had a family. He and another family member opened the Willow Bar at the property, a neighborhood gathering spot frequented by Lansing’s automotive workers.
Pizza quickly became a customer favorite, in part because Pat DeLuca “used his head,” continually improving the recipe he started with, John DeLuca said last year.
DeLuca’s pizza is still beloved by customers.
John DeLuca started working at the restaurant when he was 14.
“The gist of it is, we’re just tired,” DeLuca said. “It’s just time.”
Rumors that the restaurant might close have been circulating for a while, he said, and many customers have told DeLuca they’re saddened by the news.
It’s just as hard on the whole DeLuca family, he said.
“We just feel so privileged to have been a part of people’s lives like that,” DeLuca said. “It’s very humbling.”
He hopes whoever buys the restaurant is interested in maintaining it as “something similar to what we do,” DeLuca said. His family is open to selling the restaurant’s recipes along with the property.
DeLuca’s Restaurant will remain open, though DeLuca said he isn’t sure for how long. The restaurant employs about 21 people.
The property has not yet been listed for sale, he said.
Contact Rachel Greco at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ .