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Pasta Gondola -- 'The Pizza Machine' -- Closes After 40 Years in Danville

The longtime Danville family fun and dinner spot closed Monday for good.

Some might know it as the Pizza Machine, others might call it -- its proper name, but owner Victor Casaus calls the longtime Danville eatery home.

And, after 40 years in Danville, three owners, and nearly 10 years under Casaus's ownership, the place he and his family calls home is shuttered.

"We have a house and we have a home, (Pasta Gondola) is our home," Casaus said. "When people come here, they come to our home, they are in our home."

Pasta Gondola closed Monday, for good. Why? Well, Casaus said it wasn't necessarily the economy.

"We had 33,000 visitors last year, not counting deliveries or pickups," he said. Since the economy nosed dived starting in 2008, Casaus said business has dropped about 10 to 15 percent. "It wasn't too bad. Business was OK, it wasn't great," he said.

But an upset Casaus reiterated that it wasn't just the economy. "We don't want to go, we never wanted to go," he said. He added that it was an outside decision that forced his hand, but wouldn't elaborate on the matter.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Pasta Gondola was nearly empty. It needed a sweep, but there wasn't much left inside save for the plaques stuck on the wall commemorating little league teams going back as far as 1983, a pile of dusty candy wrappers that were hiding under the games in the now-empty arcade room, and a box full of menus.

Casaus had many anecdotes of him telling customers that his place was shutting down. One story had a little girl -- "about 6 or 7 years old," he said -- breaking out in tears after finding out the Pizza Machine was done, another had the women on the other end of the phone pleading with him to not close. He said generations of families have been coming to the pasta gondola since 1972 and a place like this won't be easily replaced. "We are part of the Fabric of Danville and have been," he said.

Casaus's children also grew up from pre-teens when Casaus bought Pasta Gondola to the young adults they are today. He has a son and daughter, both 21, and another son who is 17.

The news of the closure had hit Danville Patch's Facebook page last night.

"Now where (will) team's hold their end of season parties? It was the Go To spot and kids loved it," Michele Mah Wong posted.

"Fun memories! Sad it closed," Karen Cardinal added to the thread.

Casaus said when he took over the place in the early 2000s it was struggling. "It was absolutely struggling and I saw (purchasing the restaurant) as an opportunity to rekindle a dying landmark," he said. He wanted to bring up the quality of food and yet give the kids something to do. "Families should go out and kids should have fun," he said.

He still believes that and said he has his eyes on a few options here in Danville or maybe Orinda.

 

Tell us your memories from Pasta Gondola in the comments section below. How far back do you remember? What will you miss about it?

sally February 16, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Any idea what will move into this spot ?
sally February 16, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Thank you, Terry. Please keep us posted .
Terry Parris Jr. February 16, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Sally: I don't have info on what happens to this spot and everything the Casaus family is looking at is only potential right now, nothing final.
P February 16, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I remember going to Pizza Machine as a kid, back in the late 70's. The machine on the wall used to work, and they would lower a fake bird from the ceiling. Great place and great times!
David Lehman February 16, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I have been there many times in the 22 years I have been here. It is sad to see it go.
Pleasanton Mom February 27, 2012 at 04:49 PM
This is very sad. I had my daughter's graduation party there last year and the staff and food were wonderful. Sorry to see them go. We really liked this place and the people. I wish the family all the best and I thank them for the great service and making my daughter's graduation so memorable.
Joe February 27, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Not surprised it's gone. A long time in the making. Poor customer service, even worse food...the kitchen and dining area so dusty I'd be afraid to eat there. If that is their "home" then I'd hate to see their house! Victor once gave me a gift card as a token of his appreciation for helping him out one time. The card only had $2.19 on it! Bad business is what brought it down.
David March 08, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Remember going there back when I was going to High School at Monte Vista in the early 80's and several times recently to celebrate family birthdays. Place will be missed!
Brian Nicolson May 10, 2012 at 09:42 PM
It's so disappointing when the wrong hands get a hold of an institution. Victor should be ashamed of himself. Why didn't they sell it??? Why close it down after all these years. I ate there in opening day in 1972. And many times since. First Emilio's, now Pizza Machine. SO irresponsible!!

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