Oct 28, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
“This place was Cheers before Cheers was around,” said Jeffrey Pensabene, who owns Pensabene’s Park West with his brother, Terry.
“I mean, we’ve had three generations of at least two families that worked here, we have been blessed with wonderful key staff members. It’s that way, you become family.”
Though early in the day, Pensabene knew every patron in the tap and dining rooms at Pensabene’s Park West – and all knew him, too. Pensabene announced Park West on Milton Avenue would officially close Oct. 31.
“It’s a matter of economy,” said Jeff Pensabene. “In the 42 years that we’ve been here, the economy has certainly changed. Local economy, the lack of large corporate business in the area – when we started, Crucible was going full blast.”
He named several other industries that have since pulled out of the area — taking jobs, household incomes and the corporate lunch crowd with them.
“Energy prices, labor costs, and along with that everything that you purchase, we haven’t been able to pass that all along.”
Pensabene’s family opened the restaurant in the 1960s, when he was just 9 years old. Since then, generations of customers and employees have passed through the restaurant, and Pensabene still knows most of them by name.
“I’m proud of the things that we’ve done for the community,” Pensabene said. From employeeing local youth to catering fundraisers, the eatery has a long history with many sports teams and charitable organizations. “It’s with a very heavy heart we walk away from this.”
The location will become home to the area’s second CopperTop Tavern, a casual dining restaurant owned by restaurateurs of the Tully’s Good Times chain. Pensabene thinks the CopperTop Restaurant, owned by Tully’s Good Times, will be successful in the location due to the company’s “bigger buying power.”
“The Pensabene name will still be in the community,” he said. Pensabene’s Casa Grande, a banquet facility on State Fair Boulevard, will become the focus of the attention.
“My dad had a restaurant 19 years before this restaurant, the Tallman Street Caf (c). He took a chance when he moved out here, but sold the place to do that. It’s just another generation doing the same thing.”
It makes good business sense, but even as he said the words it was clear this was not his first choice. Pensabene was 8 years old when his father opened Park West, and his own son, now 9, “hates me for selling the place.”
Park West will close its doors for the last time on Oct. 31, but don’t expect Pensabene to be the one to turn out the lights. He suspected he would bow out early, probably without saying goodbye.
“Don’t take it personally,” he wanted customers to know. He just doesn’t want to see the place go dark.