Golden Mushroom Pizza has become the latest casualty in a string of long-standing Santa Clara restaurants closing its doors. The pizzeria, which opened on Dec. 19, 1974, will close for good on Thursday, Sept. 20 — just three months shy of its 45th anniversary.
According to Caroline Moran, who currently runs the day-to-day operations with her husband, Daniel, the decision to close was made after taking into account a variety of factors that have occurred throughout the past three years. The most notable of which is the declining health of Daniel Moran’s father, who has owned Golden Mushroom since it opened, as well as his grandmother. Secondary factors included a new baby — the Morans recently welcomed a son just four months ago — and the high cost of doing business in the Bay Area.
“It’s really hard for a mom and pop shop,” said Caroline Moran, noting that she and her husband began their romance at the restaurant. “We felt, as a family, it was the best decision to make. It just got too hard for us. It took us about six months [to make the decision] and people started speculating when they saw the hours changing.”
The Morans intended on staying open until at least the end of the year, but as rumors started to swirl and a lease negotiation was in the works, the timing was right to wind the business down sooner.
Although Golden Mushroom’s closure comes on the heels of other loved eateries ceasing to exist, Moran said the restaurant has worked out a deal to have Sara’s Kitchen move into the site.
“Sara’s son, Ross [Manion], said he wanted to look at the place and when he came in and saw it he said his heart was saying to [sign the lease],” she said, adding that the site was also being looked at by a pizza chain before Sara’s Kitchen signed the lease. “We felt really good about another small, Santa Clara business taking over the location.”
Moran said one of the most difficult parts of closing will be losing the community atmosphere the restaurant provided and being able to give back to local non-profits and little leagues.
“People walk in and you know their order, you know what they’re drinking, you know their kid’s first name,” said Moran. “You know your customer so well and you’ve gathered these relationships with these people … We were so involved with Westside and SC PAL and it was really hard for us to make this decision because of the community of Santa Clara. We give back to the PTA and do fundraisers. It was breaking our heart.
“We really do appreciate all the love the community has given to us,” continued Moran. “We were not expecting such a positive outcome. There are people we haven’t seen in years coming in. We really do think Santa Clara gave us the best it could.”
She added, “We wanted to stay. We were both born and raised here, but we felt like, in our heart, it’s our time to go.”
The Morans plan to move to Maricopa, Arizona and said that they hope to open another restaurant in the Mesa area sometime in 2020. Until next Thursday, the restaurant will only be serving pizza. Strombolis and calzones will not be available.
Golden Mushroom Pizza is at 202 Saratoga Ave. (at San Tomas). Call (408) 247-9671 or visit gmppizza.com for more information.