‘CHRISTMAS MIRACLE’: Fans of El Greco Pizza Villa rejoice at owner’s change of heart


The owner of El Greco’s Pizza Villa announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page this morning that she has changed her mind about shutting down the restaurant for good on Dec. 22.

“Dear Customers, want to let you know we will NOT be closing Dec 22. I'm reconsidering/considering other options, but nothing is final. Thank you for your patience and your loyalty,” the El Greco Facebook page said.

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The announcement was VERY warmly received by diners and former patrons of the restaurant, whose comments ranged from “CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!” to “Thank you Baby Jesus!!!! Best Christmas present ever.”

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This morning's announcement affirms what El Greco's Pizza Villa owner Johna Sanchez told this news organization's Amelia Robinson in a message last week, just before Thanksgiving:

“Just want to let you know the response from your article has been absolutely overwhelming! As of right now the closing date is up in the air. No way I can close the doors with this kind of response,” she wrote.

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*** ORIGINAL STORY (Nov. 17, 2018)*** 

The owner of a restaurant known for its Taco Tuesday, square-cut pizza and red wall carpet says her time there has simply run out.

"I've spent most of my life at El Greco, and I am getting older. I really want to do something else," El Greco's Pizza Villa owner Johna Sanchez told this news organization. "I  have family in Arizona, and I want to take a break."

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Sanchez announced Saturday that she would close the business located at 3976 Salem Ave. in Harrison Twp. on Dec. 22.

However, she told us Tuesday that the public outpouring and support she’s received since the announcement could change the timing of those plans.

“As of right now, the closing date is up in the air,” she wrote.

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Sanchez said she started working there when she was about 20 years old around 1988. She worked there off and on until about 1997, when she left for a job as an accounting assistant at a local law firm.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

"We grew up there. A lot of memories. I've always loved it. I was always just drawn back," said Sanchez, who was born nearby at recently closed Good Samaritan Hospital.
The business started in the 1950s or 1960s.

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Sanchez said she decided to buy El Greco’s after the restaurant closed in early 2007.

She reopened it that June.

“I always wanted El Greco’s,” she said. “When the opportunity came and it became available, I snatched it up.”

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The restaurant employs about 10 people, and they were kept busy Saturday after the announcement came that the restaurant would close.

“They just swamped us Saturday. We actually started running out of food,” Sanchez said. “My employees were overwhelmed.”

Some of its regular employees jumped in to help out, washing dishes and sweeping the floor.

That’s how she said things are at Greco’s, Sanchez said.

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Staff members call her “Mom,” and customers help out when they can.

“Sometimes you just throw them a rag and say ‘go clean that table off,’ ” Sanchez said.

Some have stepped forward to say they want to buy the business, and Sanchez said she is willing to entertain serious offers.

“I need a place to come to myself when I come to town,” she said. “I am hoping someone will step forward with as much love for it that I have.”

Moving on to the next chapter of her life is something she’s been thinking about for awhile now.

“I am going to do it while I am young enough (to enjoy it),” she said.