Linda Saccoman, granddaughter of Tony Saccoman, founder of Tony’s Pizzeria on Broadway in 1937, hopes the granddaddy of area pizza shops will return. Its owners shuttered it last Saturday.
“It was part of our family forever, it just seems to be a shame to lose it,” Saccoman said. She has hope for the future of a place that’s remained very special for her family and the larger community.
“The whole allure of Kingston is our history,” she said. Hopefully, the new owners will find that of value. “It was a historic landmark.”
Nealey Farrell and Dylan Kennedy, who owned the pizzeria for the last decade, announced on the eatery’s Facebook page that they had put the property on the market and had found a buyer, “It was not an easy decision for us to make but in retrospect it’s quite simple because now, for many reasons it’s what is best for our family,” the post said “We are sad, our three children are also sad. We all love Tony’s.”
Saccoman recalled on Sunday that pizza was an oddity in the area when her grandfather started Tony’s. It was one of the first, if not the first. pizzerias in the area.
It had taken some time to acquaint area residents to a now-ubiquitous food that can be found everywhere from gas stations and fast-food outlets to fine dining establishments.
“People used to call him Mr. Pizzeria, no one knew what a pizza was,” she said. “He had to give them away.”
Her grandfather had only learned about pizza after moving his family out of Kingston during the Great Depression. “There was no work here,” she said. He discovered pizza in New Jersey.
Tony lost one of his arms in a factory accident, but that didn’t stop him from starting the pizzeria on Broadway when he returned to the area. In the early 1950s he sold the business to Sparky Greco and opened up Saccoman Jeweler’s, also on Broadway.
Greco later sold the pizzeria to his brothers Charlie and Sal. Linda Saccoman said she is unsure about the chain of succession after that.
The business remained special to the Saccomans over the years. They even threw an 85th birthday pizza party inside the eatery at 582 Broadway for her father, Joe Saccoman. The orange neon sign outside the place “was very nostalgic,” Saccoman said.
Saccoman was happy that Farrell and Kennedy took a keen interest and worked to keep the pizza recipe, sauces and salads the way her grandfather had introduced them. “I know I had the tossed salad, and it was very reminiscent of how my grandmother made it,” she said.
Saccoman will be asking whoever bought Tony’s to keep the sauces perfected by her grandfather.
Some things inside the eatery like the paintings and wall murals have changed, the bar area have not changed from when her grandfather owned it. The outside courtyard is a more recent addition.
In their post, Farrell and Kennedy recalled how they had bought Tony’s in January 2010 after it had been shuttered for almost four years. It was just after they brought their eldest daughter Phoebe home from the hospital. “We decided to go for it. “It took us an entire year to secure the funding to do so but we did, and it was ours.”
With money rapidly running out after a year renovating the place, the couple opened on a Friday the 13th, they recalled in the post. Farrell and Kennedy said back then they worried that was a sign of disaster. But they stuck with their plan.
“We had ordered some chicken wings and a couple of kegs of beer (who remembers Beck’s on tap?) and after six years of being shut down we turned the Tony’s Pizzeria neon back on,” the post said. “People came, it was a successful night and we’ve been flipping those first two kegs and slinging wings ever since.”
The couple embarked on what they described in the post as “an amazing ten-year journey.” The restaurant played host to family milestones like Phoebe’s second birthday right through the arrival of their youngest daughter Penelope in the spring of 201t.
The post said the kids have had fun working in the kitchen making sauces, pizza and salads, helping out, and sometimes pestering the staff and running around like they owned the place.
“Just this past Saturday night we celebrated Phoebe’s twelfth birthday with pizza and cake at Tony’s. Sadly, that was the final birthday celebration in our family restaurant, but things change and life goes on so we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds,” the couple said in the post “Tony’s will be part of our story; it won’t be our whole story. “Getting older we realize that in the scope of things ten years isn’t an exceptionally long period of time, especially when you’re doing something you mostly love.”
Farrell and Kennedy thanked their loyal customers. They said they noting they never couldn’t have survived a decade in business without them. “The fact that we are sad to leave must mean it was something good. It was definitely good, thanks to you folks,” the post concluded. “We want to extend our heartfelt thank you to all of you! Thank you for the love, the good times and the memories.”