Plenty of folks have been asking me what happened to Casa Perfetto (Casa Mimi), the Akron stalwart on Manchester Road, known for its homestyle Italian dishes.
After 45 years, the eatery closed in November without warning, and daughter Lia Perfetto Edsall agreed to chat about the end.
Since her mother, Charlotte, died in 2008, Edsall said things had not been the same at the restaurant. Sales had been declining along with the restaurant’s neighborhood. There was little around the location, so people had to go out of their way to get there. The family tried to sell their building and find a better location, but rents at other sites were too high.
“It was a whole bunch of different things,” she explained.
Then, in July, her father, Giuseppe Perfetto, 63, suffered an aneurysm and stroke. While he is recovering, the illness forced him to retire, leaving Edsall to run the restaurant on her own, while her sister Francesca Perfetto Yanik cared for their father. Edsall was always the cook and her sister worked in the front of the house.
The load just became too much, and the sisters decided to close. Their last day was Nov. 13. They still are trying to sell the building, and to make matters worse, someone ran into it in December, causing some damage.
I asked Edsall if the stars aligned, would the family ever consider reopening? She said that wasn’t likely. After growing up at the restaurant, Edsall said she is enjoying working for someone else for a change, and her sister has her hands full raising a young son and caring for their father.
“We’re all working and taking care of everything. It’s just a lot less stress,” she said.
The restaurant was opened as Casa Mimi in 1967, by her dad’s brother, Mimi Perfetto, and his wife. Eventually her parents took over.
The name change, from Casa Mimi to Casa Perfetto, happened in 2009 after her mother died and the family discovered it was easier to reopen under a new name than to go through all of the red tape of transferring licenses out of her name.
But Edsall said the family realized that to most, the restaurant would always be Casa Mimi.
She said the restaurant had an older clientele, many of whom are returning from Florida now and just finding out that the place closed. It was bittersweet.
“I grew up there and worked there my whole life,” she said. “But it’s a good thing in a way that my dad can relax and enjoy his retirement and not have to be faced with worrying about ‘Should I go in and help?’ ”
Lisa Abraham can be reached at 330-996-3737 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @akronfoodie and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/lisa.