By Patrick J. Bradley
Senior Contributing Writer
It was an hour before opening Wednesday when Dominic Colucci arrived at the main dining room of the Como Restaurant and the phone was already ringing. As soon as he hung up from that call, the phone rang again. And again.
"The phone's ringing off the hook," Colucci said. "There were 23 messages waiting when I came in."
The callers all wanted to make dinner reservations. After 96 years at 2220 Pine Ave., in the heart of Little Italy, the Como Restaurant and Lounge has been sold.
People had been caught off guard when they heard of the sale and they wanted to dine there one more time before Saturday when its owners, members of the Colucci and Antonacci families, will close the doors for the last time.
"Where were all these people before?" asked Lisa Jones as she emerged from the attached Como Deli carrying her family's dinner. "When I walked into the deli, the line was all the way down and around. A woman working behind the counter said it was like that all day yesterday and all day today."
“It’s very bittersweet,” Colucci said. “But we have no generations coming up and we’re getting on in age, so we figured it was time for a change.”
Opened in 1927, the popular Como Restaurant has been renowned for its Italian cuisine and celebrated as a vibrant part of the city’s fabric, a place for lunch and dinner and group gatherings of all kinds.
Ivy D’Amico remembers. Her Pine Avenue business, D’Amico Music, was founded down the street from the Como 40 years ago by her father. In a way, she grew up on Pine Avenue and never left.
D’Amico said hundreds of occasions have been hosted by the Como through the years, including banquets, wedding receptions, graduation parties and countless funeral luncheons.
“I think everybody’s got a story about the Como,” she said.
The Como Restaurant was first put up for sale in 2020 at a listed price of $2.1 million. When it didn’t sell, it was put up for auction but was withdrawn when bids didn’t meet the reserve, or minimum acceptable price.
It was listed again this past April with an asking price of $1.1 million, which was reduced twice in recent months. Colucci declined to reveal the sale price or identify the new owners since the sale has not yet closed.
Included in the sale are the restaurant’s equipment, menu, all of its recipes and the Como name, he said.
Tony Poletti, operator of the nearby Marketside Restaurant and president of the Pine Avenue Redevelopment Project, a group dedicated to supporting businesses on the busy thoroughfare, said there had been fears the Como would be empty and stay empty.
“I heard they’re going to keep it the same,” Poletti said. “That would be the ideal situation. If it stays open as the Como, we look forward to working with the new owners.”
D’Amico said she does, too.
“It’s the end of an era, but I’m going to be a big supporter. I want whoever goes in there to flourish,” she said.
In September, the Como announced the closure of its airport location. A third site, on Center Street in Lewiston, ceased operations in May.