“They fought to get the ABC license back. Why would you get it back only to be closing in a week?”
Every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Brenda Nason met with about eight others to play Cribbage at Giovanni’s Restaurant on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Ruffin Road behind the Carl’s Jr.
On Tuesday, March 13, the group didn’t play their favorite card game here, because the restaurant was locked up and their lights were off.
“This caught us off guard,” she said. “The kitchen equipment and the tables were gone.”
Nason, 58, is the leader of Club #79, San Diego County Cribbage Club, which is part of a national organization with roughly 200 clubs across the U.S.
Announcing new location
Cribbage is a playing card game that utilizes a peg and cribbage-board to keep score.
“Giovanni’s was a great location for us to play and they had really good side rooms for groups and everything,” she said.
I use to come to Giovanni’s at the turn of the century when they were located at Balboa Avenue about a mile west from the I-805 freeway. I remember playing pool and drinking beer upstairs after taking finals at Mesa College. I then took my family to the Clairemont Mesa Boulevard location in 2012 to feast on their calzones and antepasto salad. After I caught word that the this location was closed, I had to see it to believe it.
I drove up and saw the eviction notice by Sheriff William Gore taped to the door. It was dated March 16. I hung outside and waited for patrons to come by.
One guy walked up and said, “Corporate must’ve gotten to them too …..with Little Caesars, 7-Eleven and Dominos selling pizzas at $5-$6 and Subway [in the same plaza] selling their 12-inch meatball and Italian subs for $4.99 — it’s hard to compete.”
Nason gets it too. “I use to own an independent restaurant then the new management company came into our plaza and moved in a bunch of chain restaurants in the complex, including an iHop and my food was way better than their food, yet people would stand in line there and not come to my place.”
On March 12th, James S. posted on Yelp that read in part “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the closure of Giovanni’s Restaurant (9353 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.) effective Sunday, [March] 11, 2018.” Then signed off with the name Sergio Bellofatto (manager from 2000-2018) and gave the restaurant a 5-star rating.
I then private messaged James S. to put me in touch with Bellofatto for an inquire on why they closed, but neither responded.
“Last month they did lose their ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) license for a couple of weeks, and they said it was just paperwork,” Nason said, “and they did get it reinstated. The last time we were there playing Cribbage (March 6) it was pretty full.”
There was another sign that was posted on the window that read in part “come see us @ our new location 5277 Linda Vista Road” and their phone number and “we will continue to deliver to this area.”
Paul Atchison couldn’t believe the restaurant that he’s been ordering pizzas with lots of cheese and toppings from shut down. “They delivered to me in Tierrasanta and I have lived here for 18 years now.”
On March 20, at about 11 a.m., I called the number at their new location between the Napa and Mollie streets, to see if they will deliver as far as Tierrasanta, which is about 10 miles away. “Zach” answered and said that they were “kinda busy” and couldn’t talk. I then asked if he could comment on why the Clairemont Mesa Boulevard location closed and he said “this is a bad time.” When I said “cribbage” he was no longer on the other line.
“I have no idea why they closed this location,” Atchison said, “Parking … maybe. But every weekend this place is packed.”
“I suspect they were having cashflow issues,” Nason said, “they fought to get the ABC license back, why would you get it back only to be closing in a week.”
She said she and her cribbage buddies will miss Misty, one of the employees there, but not so much her co-workers who “never smiled and were kind of rude…. quite frankly, two members from my group are on limited incomes, so they wanted the happy-hour pricing but they said ‘oh no because you’re a group we are not giving you happy hour pricing.''”
On March 20, Nason took her cribbage club to Filippi’s Pizza at Kearny Villa Road next to the 163 freeway and south of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.
“They are giving us happy hour pricing in the restaurant,” she said.