Carmen Valoroso will be putting on her apron one last time at Penisola Restaurant.
The beloved Italian family restaurant in downtown Quesnel is closing Wednesday, Feb. 2, after several decades of satisfying pasta cravings.
News of the restaurant and building at 121 Barlow Avenue being sold was shared a few days earlier on Facebook.
“I love, love my restaurant,” Valoroso said.
“Since we first opened, we always had amazing clientele, they’ve always been very loyal to us, and I like my staff, but right now I’m glad that I’m going. It could be in a few weeks though I’ll be crying to come back, I don’t know.”
Penisola Restaurant has humble beginnings.
The space next to the former community centre was where Valoroso’s husband John had operated a deli.
When the community centre left, he decided to move the deli in there and set up a small restaurant offering just a few pasta dishes in the back.
“And then it just grew from there,” Valoroso said, noting their successful debut when Dr. Sear, a prominant doctor from G.R. Baker Hospital was one of their first customers.
John made countless meals as head chef at Penisola Restaurant, although he did not have any formal culinary training.
“It just came to him naturally,” Valoroso said.
“When he decided to open this restaurant, he started with fettuccine alfredo and different kinds of pasta I don’t think people in Quesnel knew yet—the only thing that they seemed to know was Canadian style spaghetti and lasagna.”
More pasta dishes such as linguine with clams were slowly introduced and became popular with customers.
Valoroso followed her husband’s footsteps in between raising their family and became heavily involved with the restaurant that their daughters also help with.
“We left for Kelowna about 15 years ago, and then we came back it was like we never left,” she said.
Valoroso described John as an stubborn artist, finding himself in arguments with the City of Quesnel and former mayor Mike Pearce. John died nearly seven years ago.
After his death, Valoroso briefly returned to the restaurant before deciding to lease it with the hope of retiring. However, Valoroso said the lease turned into a nightmare, adding she had to come back to take care of her property.
“And when I reopened again, it is like I never left,” she added. “It’s just amazing.”
After Sunday’s announcement on Facebook, Valoroso was trying to remain out of sight as many would ask her if they could preorder for their last pasta night, which will be available for takeout only.
“That’s how amazing people have been, and I made really good friends,” she said, noting she is not sure what the new owner’s intentions are.
As well as thanking customers, staff, and family, Valoroso also expressed gratitude to the city, bylaw enforcement and Emcon Services, who, despite some of her complaints, would always find a way to work together and reach agreements.
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