Milillo’s Pizza owner on closing: ‘It just breaks my heart that it has to come to this’

Milillo’s Pizza will close because the iconic Hamilton restaurant’s owner said the business has struggled financially in recent years, and it hasn’t been able to weather that trouble.

Owner Ronald Stout said his family pizza restaurant was negatively impacted by a number of issues, including the nearly 18-months-long road construction project at Main Street and McKinley and Haldimand avenues, as well as an inability to land a PPP loan through the Small Business Administration.

Other reasons include the ever-increasing cost of goods and services and the COVID-19 pandemic. Added together, he said he “has not been able to recover.”

“We’ve worked with everybody, we’ve been active in the community for years,” Stout told the Journal-News. “Our customers have been obviously dear to us, and I didn’t want to do any of this because of the fact we’ve had so many loyal customers through the years ― and I’m now waiting on their grandkids. It just breaks my heart that it has to come to this. In light of someone coming forward coming to buy it, even as a turnkey operation, it’s not going to go anywhere, other than closing.”

Stout said they don’t have an end date, but outside of someone buying the business, Milillo’s could be closed by the end of the month “unless someone wants to come in and buy the place.” As of Wednesday early afternoon, no one’s came forward with an interest.

Stout said it’s been difficult to maintain the bills due to the culmination of everything that’s negatively impacted his business’s bottom line. The road construction was likely the largest reason his business struggled, saying the limited lane access “made it next to impossible” to access the take-out-only pizza restaurant.

City officials said the 18-month-long intersection construction at Main Street and McKinley and Haldimand avenues, which also impacted Cereal and Western avenues, was one of four problematic intersections that were improved in recent years along the High/Main corridor.

“I’m past the withstanding (the financial hardship) part,” Stout said, adding a closing date is dependent on how long it takes to wind down the business. “I have to make sure everything’s done properly because I’m a small S-Corp. and I want to file with the Secretary of State to dissolve the corporation and make sure we’ve got everything paid.”

Milillo’s Pizza opened in 1968, shortly after the family closed its commercial bakery on Heaton Street, which operated from 1912 until about 1967, Stout said.

Hamilton Director of Neighborhoods Brandon Saurber said, “Milillio’s is a Hamilton icon.”

“It is one of less than a handful of names that is synonymous with the taste of Hamilton,” he said “I don’t think it’s too strong of a word to say that we will mourn the loss of this business as a community.”

A few days ago, North Ridge Realty Group out of West Chester Twp. listed the retail site, which the pizza restaurant owners said they “did not authorize the listing.” The listing does site an occupancy date for the 2,055-square-foot space of March 1, which Stout said he’s uncertain why they posted the listing.

The family-run restaurant has been open since 1968, and the news is sad for the patrons of the take-out pizza restaurant, which has served generations of Hamiltonians.

Thea Wells Jeffries posted on the Milillo’s Facebook page that the news of the closure “really hurts.”

“Love Milillo’s Pizza, such a big part of Hamilton history,” she said.

Laurie Sanfillipo posted: “My favorite memories are standing inside with a parent waiting for our name to be yelled out when our pizza was ready. Some of the best pizza ever! This makes my heart sad.”

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