Totero's, a priceless, one-of-a-kind Italian restaurant in Racine, Wisconsin, that I just discovered a couple years ago, is going to shutter on June 26 after 75 years in business.
Totero's was founded by Calabrian immigrants Achille and Mary Totero as a tavern in 1939. It was subsequently run by their son Santo "Sam" Totero and his wife Virginia, and is still run by Sam's children Al and Angela. Al runs the bar, Angela the kitchen. Sam died in February 2011 at the age of 89. The building is a converted schoolhouse. The 36-foot bar was contributed by the Pabst brewery back during The Great Depression.
Albert and Angela Totero have decided to retire. "It’s just been a long, hard road," they told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, "and it’s just time. The place is old, and it needs some work." Their children have their own professions and don't want to take over.
Totero's is one of the most unique places I've ever had the pleasure to visit. As I said in my 2012 post, "There is often a line, for this 72-year-old, family-run restaurant is only open Tuesday through Friday, and even then for just two hours, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The peculiar schedule harkens back to Totero's roots as a lunch place serving the working men in the area. There used to be dinner hours, but they were eliminated a number of years back. Despite—or maybe because of—the limited window of opportunity, Totero's packs them in. People take the time to visit in the middle of the day, queue up and load up on homemade, hearty Italian fare."