Decades-old Massachusetts-based pizza chain Papa Gino’s abruptly closed dozens of its restaurants across New England over the weekend. The chain went from around 150 locations to 97, with workers across locations terminated from employment with no notice.
Reports from around New England indicate employees showed up for work to signs posted that read “this location is now closed” and “thank you for your patronage.” One employee in Lowell showed up for his second day of work to find the Papa Gino’s at the Middlesex Plaza Shopping Center closed, while another employee in Mansfield was reportedly told to apply to work at other locations.
Papa Gino’s has been around since 1961, when it first opened in East Boston as Piece O’ Pizza. The name change came in 1968, with steady expansion following. Today, the company also includes D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches.
While the company hasn’t had the same name recognition as some larger pizza chains and has remained confined to a fairly small geographic area, it’s been a staple in plenty of school cafeterias for years, and many New England kids grew up on it. In a 2014 survey of local chefs regarding their childhood pizza memories, several gave Papa Gino’s a shoutout.
“I may hold the record for most Papa Gino’s pizzas eaten in a lifetime,” said Roxy’s Grilled Cheese founder James DiSabatino at the time. “It’s probably been 10 years since I’ve had one. But I used to go after every youth hockey and Little League game from ages 7 to 14. I think it’s still the best chain pizza. And yes, you can bet your ass I had multiple birthday parties there.”
A call placed to the Papa Gino’s corporate office was not immediately returned, and the company hasn’t released a list of exactly which locations closed, although the location page on the Papa Gino’s website now shows the 97 remaining stores.
Papa Gino’s isn’t the only old local pizza chain to face sudden closures this year: In April, Bertucci’s closed 15 restaurants, leaving 59 in business, as part of a bankruptcy filing.
Update, 11/5 12:00 p.m.: Papa Gino’s has filed for bankruptcy, a spokesperson confirmed to NECN. Papa Gino’s Holdings, which includes D’Angelo, is reportedly negotiating to sell the company to Wynnchurch, a private equity firm.
• Dozens of New England Papa Gino’s Locations Abruptly Shut Down [WCVB]
• Customers, Workers Stunned as Papa Gino’s Abruptly Closes Area Restaurants [LS]
• Worcester Restaurants Among Papa Gino’s Closings [WT]