On Friday night, shockwaves rippled across Renton as the news came in that restaurant, in downtown Renton for 25 years, is closing after one last hurrah on Father’s Day.
Armondo Pavone and his wife, Angela, sent out a heartfelt notice to customers, which said, “The present state of the economy has forced me to carefully examine Armondo’s and its financial viability. I have come to the difficult conclusion that Armondo’s has run its course.”
The letter to customers was bittersweet.
“I have had the opportunity to see young couples on their first date at Armondo’s come back with their children. I have seen those children grow and have their first date in the same restaurant as their parents. Those experiences and so many others are truly special to me and I am honored to have touched a small part of your lives,” the couple said in their statement.
Last year Armondo’s added executive chef, Tom Small, who completely revamped the menu to be in the words of Pavone, “more Italian, Italian, rather than American Italian.”
Customers had a hard time accepting the changes, but appeared to be back on board in recent months. In fact, Pavone said, business actually picked up after the menu changed. But it just wasn’t enough.
“Twenty-five years is a long time for any business,” Pavone said in a phone interview Saturday afternoon. “It just ran its course and I’d rather go out on my own terms.”
“I’m not viewing this as a negative at all,” Pavone said. “There are so many exciting possibilities for leasing the space.” Armondo’s has been in discussions with people interested in the space and is actively seeking a new tenant.
Pavone is working hard to place staff members with other restaurants. Some employees will be absorbed into , his sister restaurant across the street, which he will still operate.
“Armondo’s has been an institution for decades,” Mayor Denis Law said via a phone conversation this weekend. “The closing of his restaurant is going to sadden a lot of people, but I am confident that Armondo will be active in the business community and in the Renton community for many years to come.”
One family that has been long time customers is the Hudsons. Bruce Hudson, owner of Hudson’s Designer Portraits, and personal friend of Armondo’s said, “As a business owner, who has been a part of the community as long as he has, I’m sad that the economic conditions have allowed this to happen.”
“Even long time institutions have to examine their viability to make a profit,” Hudson said.
Hudson’s son, Josh Hudson, met and courted his wife Melissa at Armondo’s; Melissa was a hostess there, and Josh thought she was really pretty.
"Armondo’s was a constant for us, and a big part of our courtship,” he said. They dined there on Saturday night after learning the news and spent some time chatting with Armondo.
Another fan over the years is Jason Parker, from King and Bunny's Appliances.
"I have been going to Armondos since the early 90's when it was in the original location," he said. "I remember and Lisa Scapini working there. We used to go there for the fabulous calzones and the great wine."
Pavone encourages people to stop in all this week, have a last meal, share memories. “This isn’t a funeral,” Pavone said. “We view this as a positive.”
Over the past 20 years, the customers have admired the artwork in the restaurant Pavone said, so they plan to sell some of the memorabilia that people always wished they had.
“Armondo’s has meant a lot to a lot of different people over the years,” Pavone said, “that doesn’t go away. We will be a part of Renton’s history,” he said.
Thanks for 25 years of great food and memories, Armondo!
The author’s first meal in Renton 11 years ago on the fourth of July was at Armondo’s. She had the veal piccata.