"It is with heavy hearts that after 27 years at Barone's Restaurant, we will be closing our fine-dining operation as of 12/22/2022," according to the restaurant's website.
Joe and Maricela Barone -- who own and operate the restaurant located on 475 St. John St. -- first opened their doors in March 1995. According to the "About" section of the restaurant's website, they were able to make their dreams of owning a restaurant come true after they purchased the historic Casanova's Restaurant in downtown Pleasanton, which later became Barone's Restaurant.
Located on the north end of downtown, a block off Main Street, the restaurant has become well-known in the community over the years -- but because of things like the pandemic, inflation and staffing shortages that were impacting day-to-day operations, the couple said they have decided to call it quits.
"We want to thank all of our wonderful patrons for their years of support -- and for creating so many lasting memories with us and our great staff," the website stated. "We hope these last couple of months are a time for us to come together and make our final dining experiences together just as special."
But the intent on closing the restaurant isn't something that is new.
The Barones announced their intent to shut down early in 2021 and even tried to propose plans to redevelop the downtown site into residential housing.
The initial plan, which was submitted to the Planning Commission, was to build an 11-unit detached single-family residential project -- seven of which would also include accessory-dwelling units (ADUs) -- at the properties at 475 and 493 St. John St.
But the couple found out that if they wanted to do that, their design plans needed to include commercial space and couldn't be entirely residential due to city regulations.
When the City Council updated Pleasanton's Downtown Specific Plan in 2019, the area was designated as commercial. It allowed for residential use on certain sites if some commercial space was included.
At the time, the council called an exclusively residential project on the Barone's site not desirable and city staff also said they received numerous messages about the project from residents, with the majority opposed to building more housing on the site.
All five planning commissioners during that time told Joe and Maricela Barone and developer Robson Homes at a March 24, 2021 workshop to draft alternate plans that integrate commercial space.
Ellen Clark, director of community development, told the Weekly on Wednesday that the city did receive a revised project application last December.
"The application now includes 14 attached single-family homes, and an enlarged commercial component comprising two separate buildings flanking a courtyard/plaza and fronting St. John Street, while retaining the existing Barone's home," Clark said.
She added that the project is currently under city and California Environmental Quality Act review to be potentially identified as a new housing project for downtown Pleasanton.