Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 11:17 pm | Fair 58º


Local News

Deano’s Pizzarama Lives to Bake at Least a Few More Days

Mesa restaurant fighting uphill battle to stay in business but fans mobilize to keep the slices coming

Rumors started circulating earlier this week that the longtime Mesa pizza institution, Deano’s Pizzarama, might be forced to close its doors.

Friday was to have been the day of reckoning for the restaurant that’s been a Santa Barbara mainstay for more than 50 years. Management at Deano’s, 1950 Cliff Drive in the Mesa Shopping Center, had expected to know for sure whether the pizzeria could keep its doors open before the weekend. On Friday night, the restaurant was open and packed with customers — and with a line stretching out to the sidewalk.

The threatened closure stems from the restaurant not being able to pay its rent, which Deano’s management says has been rising steadily since the shopping center was remodeled two years ago.

Opened in 1960 under the name “Me-n-Ed’s,” the pizzeria was purchased six years ago by Lou Torres, a friend of the original owner.

“Business has been good, we just can’t pay our rent anymore,” said John Henning, who’s managed the store for 21 years. “We’ve been really busy, everybody just can’t believe it’s closing.”

The only hope for the doors staying open would be a negotiation with Investec, the shopping center’s management company. Investec officials did not respond to Noozhawk’s request for comment.

Henning said the store will know its fate Friday and that the end likely will be a week from Sunday.

“There’s a lot of chatter online about it,” he said. “People are calling from out of town to see if it’s true.”

In fact, a Facebook group called “Help Save Dean-o’s in Santa Barbara” was started and, as of Friday night, had drawn more than 4,600 fans.

Personal stories lamenting the possible closure crammed the group’s message board, including one woman who had her wedding rehearsal at the restaurant and another who met her husband there.

A note from Deano’s management and staff was posted on the page, expressing regrets that they’d soon be closing the doors.

“The community will lose a place where family and friends gather for food, fun and entertainment for over four generations ... Unfortunately, in about six years, the rent has doubled. The recent construction of the Mesa Shopping Center, which took place about a year ago, has also resulted in a loss of revenue along with the current status of our economy have all been contributing factors,” the statement said.

After several failed attempts at a negotiation for lower rent, the staff still believes a reduction could have kept the business going.

“You will be missed, Deano’s will be missed,” the statement read. “It is another part of Santa Barbara history lost in the shuffle of big business.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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