Extended Family: Larson First Non-Lisciandro To Own City Restaurant
For the first time since its inception, Lisciandro’s Restaurant in downtown Jamestown will be owned by someone outside of the family.
Lisciandro’s, located on 207 N. Main St., has been in operation for almost 70 years. The restaurant was founded in 1954 by John Lisciandro’s father, Sam, and used to be located on the corner of Second and Main until moving to its current location.
Lisciandro’s father worked in what was Perry’s restaurant as a cook before purchasing the place and turning it into Lisciandro’s in 1954. The restaurant has stayed in the family ever since.
During his youth, Lisciandro would work weekends and wash dishes every night in the family-owned restaurant.
Lisciandro and his wife, Carol, eventually took over the family business in 1975.
“I started working here in 1962,” Lisciandro said. “I was 13 years old, now I’m 72, same spot.”
Lisciandro said before taking over the business from his father, he planned on moving out of town.
“Well, actually, I was going to leave town,” Lisciandro said. “My father got sick … and I had to stay and run the business.”
Lisciandro looks back on his career with fondness and joy due to the people he’s met over the years.
“It’s been great,” Lisciandro said. “I’ve met a lot of nice people. Overall, the experience has been great, and we’ve been well-received in the area.”
Lisciandro said his favorite aspect of owning and operating a restaurant is meeting his customers.
“I like people — most of the time,” Lisciandro said, jokingly.
Lisciandro said the impact of COVID, which limited the number of staff he could have on board, resulted in him working in the restaurant more than he wanted at his age. As a result, he realized it was time for him to retire and sell the restaurant to long-time employee Patti A. Larson.
“We had talked to her a couple years ago about her buying it,” Lisciandro said. “Then things changed and got better. Then COVID hit and this past year really got to me — working six days a week (because I) couldn’t afford to hire help because of 50% capacity, and luckily Patti was ready to take over.”
Unsurprisingly, Lisciandro said he will miss the people and his customers the most. In retirement, Lisciandro will still have a presence in the restaurant by coming in and helping Larson with a few things.
“She wants me to still help her a little bit, make the Italian sausage for her,” Lisciandro said. “After a couple months I might work the weekends for her in the winter.”
Lisciandro also praised some of his long-term employees, like Larson, for their dedication to the business.
Larson plans to take the reins on the restaurant after Lisciandro retires. She started working at Lisciandro’s 29 years ago.
“I needed a job really bad,” Larson said, “so my neighbor told me that Lisciandro’s might be hiring, and I came down here, and sure enough, John hired me.”
Larson, like Lisciandro, really loves the customers the restaurant has. In her 29 years working there, she has also come to enjoy cooking and waiting on people, calling it “a rush.”
Admittedly, Larson characterizes this new endeavor of owning the restaurant as “kind of scary,” but she is grateful that the support of her husband and Lisciandro will facilitate the transition.
After taking full ownership, Larson plans to maintain the classic Lisciandro’s feel that the restaurant has offered for so long.
“We want to keep everything pretty much the same,” Larson said. “Maybe add a few things of our own, do a little updating in here and most importantly (we’re) not changing the name.”
One of the main factors that led Larson to agree to purchase and own Lisciandro’s was the idea of the restaurant closing down.
“I would just hate to see a place like this close,” Larson said. “That was one major reason why we wanted to buy it — to keep it going. We want to keep it as much the same as we can and continue to please the customers.”
Larson was very complimentary of her long-time boss and alluded to the lessons she learned from him being very important for her going forward as the new owner.
“I’ve been very blessed to have him as my mentor,” Larson said.