Peppo Nino is for sale

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Tony Rosa’s first job at Peppo Nino was peeling potatoes as a kid, once he was big enough to sit on a pail and do it.After running the business on 702 Grand Ave. with his sister Angela for about 30 years, Rosa recently listed his family’s restaurant for sale. It’s been a family business since before Rosa was born.”All three of us kids grew up there,” he said, describing the large apartment above the restaurant where he still lives.

The place radiates character thanks to items like the miniature railroad cars on the walls full of Jim Beam – collector’s items Rosa began purchasing almost 25 years ago. A 1950s menu shows a steak cost about $4.75. In the kitchen there’s an old-style wooden refrigerator with six doors and handles, and an old butcher block; both were on the original equipment list when Rosa’s father, Joe, started the business about 60 years ago.The people behind the Italian restaurant have character of their own. In the a.m. if it’s not a busy time, Rosa can often be spotted around a table in the back. He’s smoking Marlboro Ultra Light 100s, drinking coffee, cracking jokes with longtime friends and perhaps playing some gin.”We play a lot of gin – cards,” said Jack Arbaney, a longtime friend. “And he likes to gloat when he wins.””Which is most of the time,” Rosa joked.Rosa’s not sure why he ended up enjoying and sticking with the restaurant business, other than his growing up in it. He’s helped buddies drive trucks and do roofing.”Roofing was hard work and I thought spaghetti is a lot lighter than that,” he joked.

Peppo Nino at first existed without its own name, only as part of the 702 Club, which later became the Riviera Supper Club. Peppo Nino was divided off into a separate restaurant in the 1960s. It served a lot of beer, pizza and hamburgers at the time. His dad, Joe, named the restaurant in honor of his sons. Peppo means little Joe – for Rosa’s brother – and Nino means little Anthony, Rosa said.Around that time the Riviera also became more of a restaurant rather than a nightclub. In the late 1950s, there was a walk-through connecting what is now Peppo Nino to the Riviera and its dance floor. Rosa’s father was one of the first and only guys who brought exotic dancers into town, Rosa said. Rosa and his sister Angela now own the Riviera property and lease out the business, which is what they plan to do with Peppo Nino. There’s no buyer yet and they’re unsure of what might go in. He didn’t want to announce what kind of price he was looking for.Rosa offered a simple and elegant reason for the sale: “After 30 years I’m getting a little bit tired.”That’s easy to imagine. He’s not always playing cards or drinking coffee. Rosa described work days that began preparation at 8:30 a.m. and could often end at midnight or beyond during the busy times. Rosa said he has done the cooking and Angela has run things out front. He said he hasn’t really put much thought into retirement or what he’ll do next.He’ll probably miss the place, the regulars and the friends he’s made, but won’t miss all the work. He’s seen a lot of change in Glenwood Springs.”You hate to see more traffic. You hate to see the small businesses leave,” he said. “But change – it’s going to come.”

People think that when the old-timers quit, everyone will go to the big-box stores, he said, but then again, it seems there are people starting new small businesses.Arbaney said the restaurant has many regulars and it was a bit of a disappointment to hear Peppo Nino would be sold. He’ll miss the morning coffee sessions that might have to be moved elsewhere.”The price is right for the coffee here,” Arbaney said.”The coffee don’t cost anything, but the cream’s $3 a tube,” Rosa joked.Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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