Mariazza's Pizza and Pasta Restaurant, located at 94 Main St., closed its doors for good this past Sunday after three years in Geneseo.
Owner Jonathan Marciniak ran the restaurant. Marciniak's girlfriend, Kimberlee Andelora, who also worked in the restaurant, said the main reason for closing was lack of business, and a desire to look into other opportunities. She also wanted to thank all of the loyal customers from the past three years.
Daniel and Larry Scoville own the building where the restaurant was located on Main Street. Daniel Scoville says that there are currently three potential businesspeople interested in the location.
Andelora felt that the restaurant had simply run its course in Geneseo. She noted, "Businesses in this town in general has gone down a lot the past few years." The combination of that and having to pay a high rent charge had a part in the decision to close the restaurant. Also, during the summer when the College is not in session, business tends to go down drastically. However, she did not think that other pizza restaurants such as Mama Mia's hurt business for Mariazza's, as she claimed that the late-night bar rush was usually split between the two restaurants. Scoville also doesn't think that Mia's necessarily pushed Mariazza's out of town, but does feel that it did affect the restaurant in some way. "There is competition, you have three pizza places in a small town," he said.
Andelora and Scoville both acknowledged that there does tend to be a quick turnaround in businesses in Geneseo. Andelora said that she had seen many businesses come into and out of Main Street since Mariazza's opened, specifically in the building that is owned by the Scovilles.
According to Andelora, in the past two or three years, the following businesses have been in and out of the Scoville building: Java Joe's, Point of View Tattoo, an art studio/furniture store, the Around Back Café, a fitness center, and Mariazza's. In addition, she mentioned that there have been at least six other businesses to come and go from Main Street in the past few years.
Andelora also pointed out that many other businesses on Main Street are struggling. SUNY Geneseo has required all freshmen and sophomores to live on campus, which has kept many students from eating off-campus because of the unavoidable meal plan. She mentioned that with the increase in academic standards at Geneseo, students do not go out as much, and therefore there are far fewer students who will stop in for a late night slice of pizza. Local bars even have to appeal to the "scholarly" crowd by hosting trivia nights, she said.
Scoville felt that the turnaround is about four to five years for a business or restaurant, but also said, "I don't think it's been in and out." He mentioned that some businesses have been in town for over 20 years. The Scovilles have owned the building where Mariazza's is located since 1985. Since then, the storefront where Mariazza's was located has been the home of the Bronze Bear Restaurant, Leon's Pizzeria, Belladessa's Pizzeria, and for the past three years, Mariazza's. Mariazza's had bought Belladessa's. Scoville also claimed that the Bronze Bear was successful in its location, but that the owners wanted to open another restaurant in another town. He declined to comment on what he felt were the main reasons for Mariazza's closing.
The closing of Mariazza's has left its patrons looking for a new pizza place and in some cases, even a new hangout. Geneseo senior Cynthia Chen worked at Mariazza's, and is disappointed by the closing. "I really don't know where I'm going to go for pizza now. A lot of people are coming up to me with that question too." Chen also said that Mariazza's had a family atmosphere, which she will miss. "The one thing I loved about Mariazza's was that it was like a family. We knew people by name. We knew what their orders were, and we could just joke around with them." Junior Daniel Petrone had been working at Mariazza's since the beginning of his freshman year. He expressed similar sentiments as Chen. "It was not just a paycheck, but something I enjoyed doing," he said.
Petrone also stressed how the loss will affect other Mariazza's patrons. "When people came in for food it was like they were visiting a friend's house. I can't tell you how many people would stop by on a daily basis just to hang out for a bit, even when they weren't getting food."
Andelora says that she and Marciniak are also looking into potential future opportunities in the restaurant business. "We have other restaurant opportunities. It's been three years, it's time to move on to bigger and better things."