Elbo Room closes, offers deliveryAnnouncing a change in its business model created an air of excitement at Sammy’s Pizza/Elbo Room on Friday.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Announcing a change in its business model created an air of excitement at Sammy’s Pizza/Elbo Room on Friday.
Phones were ringing with reservations for some of the last customers to be served in the restaurant. New menus awaited distribution.
“I haven’t had this much enthusiasm since we opened this place in 1978,” Jeff Giansanti said. “At 64-years-old, I feel like I’ve been regenerated.”
The Superior businessman created the stir when he and his wife announced last week that they would be closing the restaurant that has been a mainstay in Superior for 56 years, to reinvent itself under a new business model.
While the sit-down Elbo Room restaurant and bar will close Dec. 31, a new version of the business is set to kick off days later, on Jan. 3.
The Giansantis are streamlining Sammy’s based on what they say they’ve heard customers ask for over the years.
“They’ve totally changed the playing field,” said Kevin Mikel, a local dentist and longtime customer. He called the change a very, very smart move. Customers can still order Sammy’s famous pizzas, as well as nearly 30 other menu items, including spaghetti, meatball sandwiches and hot wings. Starting Jan. 3, they will just have to eat it at home.
The restaurant will provide its homemade specialties solely for take-out, pick-up —and for the first time ever — delivery. In addition, the business will open five hours earlier each day, at 11 a.m., just in time for lunch.
“The people who love our pizzas are going nuts,” Diane Giansanti said.
“If you live in town where delivery is now possible,” Mikel said, “the news is one of the best Christmas presents you can have.”
At one time, people stood in line for a sit-down supper at the Elbo Room. Between the economic downturn and the fast pace of people’s lives, that is no longer the case. Today, more than 60 percent of customers stop by the take-out window instead. And the biggest seller remains pizza, which accounts for about 70 percent of orders.
“We’re customer dictated,” Jeff Giansanti said.
“You have to see what people are asking for,” his wife said.
The change does have a price — jobs. Last week, the Giansantis announced they would be cutting staff from 27 to nine with the change in the business model.
Most of those employees were part-time, according to the Giansantis and their bookkeeper, Swan Dawson. After they got the news, Diane Giansanti said, they shared stories and tears; it was bittersweet.
Dawson said the decision to shutter one aspect of the business to focus on another was well thought-out.
“We have to change with what’s going on in the world,” she said.
And it brings a new possibility for the Giansantis — more free time.
Jeff works day and night, Dawson said. I think this will give him a break. I can’t remember the last time he took a vacation.
Jeff Giansanti said he hopes the future will involve some fishing and the ability to travel with his wife. Diane Giansanti would like to spend more time with family.
“We’re proud and grateful for what this town has meant to us,” Jeff Giansanti said, and they appreciated the decades of support. “We’ve always appreciated that and never taken it for granted.
Mikel said he’s going to miss the restaurant’s steaks and the ability to sit down at the Elbo Room for an anniversary dinner. They have a killer combination — great food and great people, he said.
“Every time you go there, it’s a wonderful experience,” Mikel said.
While the front door is closing, the back entrance is gearing up for an increase in traffic.
“It’s sad,” Mikel said, “but I’m loving it that they’re going to be open in some capacity.”