In a little bit of heartache on Valentine’s Day, Tuesday will be Mother Mary’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria’s last day of business.
The pizza place with the regular comedy shows and the spectacular garlic knots at Willow and Nees in Clovis is closing.
The restaurant’s owners shared the news in a post on its Facebook page, but declined to comment further about the closing.
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The children of Leonard “Len” Ruggiero and others have been running Mother Mary’s since Ruggiero died last summer at age 65.
The post says the staff “have worked diligently to try and save our Dad – Len’s legacy, but our efforts have been unsuccessful in the face of our overhead.”
It goes on to say that efforts to renegotiate the rent or fix the ventilation system haven’t worked out.
They are inviting customers to “liquidate” their inventory of food and drink with $2 beers, $3 wine and $4 cocktails through Tuesday.
“Please come by and raise a glass to my Dad, and say goodbye. We LOVE our customers and we will miss you!” the post says.
The comments on the Facebook post were full of condolences from longtime customers and references to Ruggiero, like the one from Ashlei Frazier that said: “So many memories for our family here. We love you all and miss Len dearly. Thank you for being our family’s favorite place. Nothing can compare to the marinara, calamari and service.”
The closure leaves a hole in the comedy scene as audiences squeezed into the back of the restaurant every Thursday to hear stand-up comedians.
Comedian and promotor Danny Minch lamented the loss of the place that has been a comedy hub for six years.
“Quite literally hundreds of comedians from all over the country have graced Mother Mary’s stage and looked forward to coming back. Len took a great gamble on me and comedy and his memory will always be part of the Fresno/Clovis comedy scene,” he says in a message to the Bee.
The Slice of Comedy brand and shows will continue at The Lounge at the Dicicco’s in Clovis, which has shows Saturday nights starting in March.
The other Mother Mary’s location at Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue closed a while ago.