Patrons of Sunnyvale’s Il Postale restaurant will soon see new faces at the helm, as longtime owner Joe Antuzzi has sold the Italian eatery and retired.
Often seen behind the bar or roaming the restaurant’s dining area, Antuzzi, who opened the restaurant at the old post office on Washington Avenue in 1995 and relocated it to the current location on Murphy Street in 2015, frequently mingled with guests and ensured everything was always just right for diners. However, a number of factors, including that he no longer sees a future for the full service restaurant industry in Sunnyvale and Silicon Valley, led him to retire.
Citing the rapid increase in Sunnyvale’s minimum wage and annual cost of living increases as hindrances to profitability, Antuzzi said the influx of onsite cafés and cafeterias at tech companies have also contributed by effectively eliminating lunch business and making it difficult to find and retain kitchen help, as back of house employees gravitate toward the regular business hour environment these jobs provide.
“In downtown Sunnyvale, in the past five to six years, the lunch business is down 75 percent,” said Antuzzi. “Everybody feeds their employees and it’s a great business plan for the big companies, but it’s devastating for restaurants at lunchtime. As I look at it, with the cost of doing business, you can’t survive without a good lunch.
“I [also] realize I’m a dinosaur in this industry,” he continued. “I feel fortunate I was fairly successful for 40 years. If I was younger, I could retool and come up with a different concept, but it was time for me to move on and enjoy life while I have it.”
Antuzzi, who previously owned Lord John’s restaurant in Santa Clara for 17 years and served as general manager of Campbell’s The Parlor nightclub, said he will most miss the customers and relationships he has built over the years, including those with salespeople and the staff members who became his extended family.
“Every day was a different challenge, different enjoyment, different person you would meet who was interesting,” he said before quipping, “A different person you had to pretend to like. There are a lot of good people out in the world and if I was behind a desk in an office I wouldn’t have met them. I’m lucky that I got to meet thousands and thousands of people and I feel good that I’ve been able to keep relationships with a lot of people.”
And, although he’ll no longer be the face of Il Postale, Antuzzi doesn’t believe he’ll slow down or stay retired long.
“I’m going to find something to do,” he said. “Keep active. Read. Paint the bathroom on a monthly basis. I would like to do something else, most likely not in the restaurant business, but who knows, maybe some consulting. It’s the holiday season, so I’m going to close out the books and get ready for the end of the year stuff,” he paused, before adding with a laugh, “but if anyone is hiring, call me.”