Bethany Clough

Popolo’s Pizza reopens at new spot with joy, sadness

Popolo’s Pizza has moved to the Park Place shopping center at Palm and Nees avenues, taking over the space Capo’s restaurant left behind.
Popolo’s Pizza has moved to the Park Place shopping center at Palm and Nees avenues, taking over the space Capo’s restaurant left behind. bclough@fresnobee.com

The newly reopened Popolo’s Pizza is bigger, better and a little bittersweet.

The more than 30-year-old pizza restaurant opened in its new digs Friday at the Park Place Shopping Center at Palm and Nees avenues near GB3.

The restaurant took over the space that Capo’s restaurant left when it closed months ago, with Popolo’s people tearing down the curtains to let light stream in.

The former Popolo’s location, at the Blackstone and Herndon avenues, has been closed since February. A plumbing leak led to the discovery of a major mess under the kitchen – the leak had eroded the soil beneath the foundation, requiring the replacement of the floor and plumbing.

Facing four to six months of repair time, the family opted instead to move the restaurant. They had already been looking at another spot in the Park Place center.

The new location has an extra 1,700 square feet, a patio and a bar with more taps.

But pretty much everything else has stayed the same.

The Greene family who runs the restaurant isn’t changing the pizza or the menu. They still have wood panels on the walls. They brought the ovens from the old location, the arcade games and the box car that was on display. That’s the car that Tyler Greene used to race at Woodward Park as a child, built by his father, who ran Popolo’s for years.

Even 23 of their 25 employees made the move – a feat since the restaurant has been closed for about five months and employees could have found other jobs.

“The menu is going to stay the same. Pricing is going to stay the same,” says Melissa Greene, with her husband Tyler finishing her sentence: “We wanted to keep everything the same.”

One important person, however, is missing: Greg Greene. That’s Tyler’s father, who started the restaurant.

Before the plumbing problems, in their first vacation in a decade, the family went to Disney World in Florida. Greg Greene didn’t feel well one day, so he stayed behind in the hotel room. He died there of a heart attack at age 60.

Greg and his wife Jane Greene had been focused on their catering business run out of Popolo’s kitchen in recent years. Their son Tyler and his wife – with their 3-year-old son Hunter often around – focused on Popolo’s the restaurant.

Making the move without Greg has been tough.

Tyler would get excited about something, like the new restaurant’s tables made from reclaimed wood, and get the urge to call his dad – but he couldn’t.

“Me and him were real close,” Tyler says. “I would always call him first.”

For all the tragedy, there’s a lot of love surrounding this business too. When the family first posted about the old location’s closing on Facebook, they were bowled over by the response.

“A lot of people thought that we had just closed and the outpouring from social media ... it just kinda hit ya,” Tyler says.

Dozens left supportive comments every time the family posted on Popolo’s Facebook page.

“Somebody had written, ‘Make sure you bring the box car,’” Melissa notes.

One customer begged for a memento from the old place – a doorknob, a piece of wood, anything – to give her mother on Mother’s Day.

Melissa found her a piece of wood from the wall and the woman gave it to her mother. The family has already made a reservation at the new place.

In fact, the restaurant is quickly booking up. If you go, particularly on a weekend, call them first at (559) 435-6775 to make a reservation.

So many customers were watching and waiting for Friday’s opening that the family didn’t say anything on Facebook when it opened. They simply posted a picture of the new restaurant with the open sign and in return got a flood of excitement from customers.

Creamistry

Ice cream that’s instantly frozen in front of you using liquid nitrogen at -321 degrees Fahrenheit is coming to Clovis.

Creamistry (as in chemistry, get it?) is a Southern California-based company is opening a location in the Clovis Commons shopping center. That’s the one that’ss home to Target at Herndon and Willow avenues. No opening date has been set yet.

Customers pick the base of their ice cream (regular, organic, sorbet or coconut milk) and then choose from 50 flavors and 50 mix-ins.

The ice cream is then flash frozen right in front of them, with big clouds billowing out from the machinery.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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