After more than five decades as a Northeast institution, Totino’s Italian Kitchen will close its doors on Sunday, making way for an unspecified new development.
The family restaurant opened at its current location at 532 Central Ave. in 1951, but real estate pressures pushed it out of the slowly gentrifying neighborhood near downtown.
Owner Steve Elwell told the Northeast Beat today that the restaurant signed a lease last week for a new space in Mounds View, where the restaurant will reopen early next year. The space is in the Original Mattress Factory building at 2535 Highway 10, at the corner of Long Lake Road.
“We’re ready to go. We just have to get possession of the building,” Elwell said.
All of the tables, booths and equipment from the current location will make the trip to the new site, he said.
The future of its space on Central Avenue is still uncertain. The restaurant was told earlier this year that its lease would not be renewed. The owner, Totino’s Investment Inc., was in the process of selling the building to a local development company.
Elwell’s grandparents, Jim and Rose Totino, opened the Italian kitchen on Feb. 7, 1951. The Northeast couple had shared pizzas made from her mother’s recipe with friends, who then urged them to turn the pizzas into a business.
The restaurant celebrates its final two days in Northeast this weekend with a “1951 special.” Each dine-in party will be able to draw a random card after their meal good for anywhere between 19 percent and 51 percent off their bill.
The restaurant’s hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. Elwell said if they remain busy on Sunday they might extend their hours until 9:30 or 10 p.m.
It’s been a week of mixed emotions, with plenty of excitement about signing the new lease, Elwell said. Still, it won’t be easy saying goodbye to a space the restaurant has called home for 56 years.
“It’s going to be sad on Sunday, there’s no doubt about it,” Elwell said.