Beloved Emeryville institution Bucci’s to shutter after 28 years

Published On August 20, 2015 | By Rob Arias | In the Neighborhood, News, News & Commentary, Restaurants

Emeryville residents and fans of the beloved Italian restaurant Bucci’s on Hollis are reeling after the announcement that the owners have decided to call it quits after 28 years. Amelia Bucci was a fixture of the establishment (and about the most adorable woman I’ve ever met). A huge loss for the city and they will leave a gaping hole in our city’s dining options and the neighborhood. No more warm bread and olives, no more art by featured local artists and no more hand-scribed quotes on their chalkboard.

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Photo: Daniel Raynaud

Bucci’s made the announcement official through their Facebook page with the following post:

Bucci’s would like to make an official announcement of our retirement. After nearly three fulfilling and memorable decades of pizza, pasta, friends, and more, we have decided to end this chapter of our career here, and allow ourselves to pursue other endeavors.
We would like to thank each and every one of you that shared a meal with us, and the warmest regards go out to all our loyal patrons that have allowed us to stay in business for 28 years, and flourish even brighter to this day.
Just as all good things must come to an end, Bucci’s will close our doors for good on September 30, 2015.
Thank you.

No mention of the impact from the recently passed highest in the nation Minimum Wage Ordinance was given but the timing is incredible and speculation that this was a convenient time to get out of the restaurant business will persist. Bucci’s were big supporters of the “Scott & Dianne” campaign and in fact held their victory party there. Because of this loyalty, it is unlikely that they would “throw them under the bus” as this would create backlash against Council and the unpopular measure.

Bucci’s tried to offset the impacts of the MWO by raising prices and applying a $2.50 per person service charge. It is unknown how many employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closing and if a new restaurant will turn up in its place. The owner of the property is purportedly committed to keeping a restaurant in the space and Bucci’s has expressed the desire to sell its assets to a prospective buyer.

amelia-bucci-emeryville

[Addendum 8/21] As a loyal Bucci’s customer over the last 12 years, I immediately set out to have dinner Friday evening (hopefully not the last time) and chat with Amelia about the sad news of their decision to exit Emeryville. She acknowledged the challenges that the MWO created for her restaurant and others and the adjustments she’s had to make. She acknowledged the inaccurate data that council used to push this through and she acknowledged her preference for a regional approach. She also acknowledged that it ultimately had no bearing on her final decision and timing was the main factor. My speculation was inaccurate and I wanted to set the record straight. I owe her that. Getting it right will always be more important than being right for me.

Bucci’s of course opposed the MWO at the 4/7 Study Session by presenting data that debunked the Berkeley IRLE Study that Council often deferred to:

Stories continue to surface as restaurants struggle to make the transition from an overnight 36% hike for small businesses like them. Despite little support from residents, almost no support from business and many warnings of the implications, Council opted to push through their social justice driven agenda. We can guarantee that this won’t be the last announcement we make of an Emeryville establishment closing or moving.


Retirement plans closing Bucci’s in Emeryville

By Linda Zavoral

The huge meatballs come from an old Bucci family recipe.
For nearly 30 years, they’ve cooked East Coast-style Italian food for an admiring East Bay audience.

Now, the three co-owners of Bucci’s in Emeryville are calling it a career. Amelia Bucci, the restaurant’s namesake, Paul Camardo and Les Julian will shut the restaurant on Sept. 30, giving fans old and new plenty of time to make it to Hollis Street for one last meal.

The closing is bittersweet, Bucci acknowledges. “We have such loyal customers, and everyone is dealing with their grief, as we are.”

Read More on MercuryNews.com →

Feature Image: David W. on Yelp

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

43 Responses to Beloved Emeryville institution Bucci’s to shutter after 28 years

  1. Leave it to Rob Arias to try to put a right wing spin on this. Rob, being a minimum wage ‘dead ender’ is obviously going to try to make every business that closes attributable to the minimum wage increase in Emeryville from now on, regardless of the truth. And what IS the truth? Well if Rob had bothered to ask Bucci if the minimum wage increase has anything to do with Bucci’s closing, he would have gotten the answer: “This has nothing to do with the minimum wage hike” Bucci told me. “Bucci’s supports the new minimum wage” she added. But Rob didn’t ask because he didn’t want to hear that…so he just made up this BS story. How’s that for journalism E’Ville Eye readers?

    For the real story, go top the Emeryville Tattler: http://emeryvilletattler.blogspot.com/2015/08/emeryville-institution-buccis-to-close.html

    • RAW-B says:

      Please pass along her contact info. I personally don’t believe anything I read in the Tattler and they filter any dissenting comments.

      • No. I’m not doing your work for you. You just slimed Bucci in this BS story of yours. You should apologize.

        And quit lying to your readers about the Tattler censoring comments. I’m going to close down my free service of forwarding to the Tattler E’Ville Eye negative comments against the Tattler. Several of your readers are now making negative comments themselves directly in the Tattler. Your phony narrative is collapsing, Rob. Your readers are starting to realize they’ve been lied to. They are free to criticize all they want.

      • Anonymous says:

        I posted on the Tattler yesterday. The post still isn’t on your site. Why do you censor comments? And why do you lie about it?

    • Rob says:

      What’s Next: Are you going to leave a fake comment purporting to be from Amelia Bucci that “We support the Minimum Wage” like you did with IHOP?
      Me saying there will be speculation because of the timing is not a discredit to Bucci’s. Keep spinning Bro.

      • A fake comment? Do you think Bucci would object if I misquoted her? Are you going to wait for Bucci’s objection Rob? How long are you going to wait? Are you going to leave your charge of my faking a quote sitting there so it can continue to work for you, propping up your right wing phony artifice there? Or are you going to ask her yourself like you should have before you posted your BS speculative opinion piece?

        I just KNEW you were going to be a minimum wage dead ender Rob. A bunch of us speculated on it months ago. Some thought you’d choose to be a survivor…get out in front of it…maybe ignore it and move on or perhaps try to convince people you were in favor of raising the wage all along. I knew better…I can tell true believers when I see them. I knew you’d crater. You’re never going to stop the minimum wage raise, no matter what (stealth) right wing Council members you back next year. Minimum wage is here to stay.

      • Rob says:

        Do I personally know if the MWO was any factor in their decision? No. That’s why I used the word “speculation” as the timing was incredible. I just know I don’t trust any of the information coming from you as it is one-sided and usually slanted to fit your agenda.

        By “dead ender” do you mean holding decision makers accountable for their decisions? Isn’t that the whole point of the The E’ville Eye and the Tattler? Again, I guess you only do it when it fits your agenda.

  2. Rob, there is a way to find out if the restaurant is closing because of the raise in the minimum wage. But it requires work. You have to ask the restaurant owner. You know, journalism? Why didn’t you ask Bucci if that’s why she’s closing the restaurant? It’s obviously something your’e very interested in. So why didn’t you ask her? Is it because you didn’t want to hear what she might have said? Is that why? Is it because you’d rather just go ahead and attribute it to the minimum wage ordinance?

  3. Excellent story, Rob; very well done. And good for YOU about not buckling under to Brian’s constant bullying. He has more phoniness and misleading statements in a single issue of his phony blog site than you have in all of your stories put together. Keep up the good work.

  4. Brian donahue says:

    So sorry Rob you have to deal with at least one reader who asks you tough questions. It’s not legitimate for E’Ville Eye readers to ask tough questions of the editor, right?

    • Brian donahue says:

      Re: E’Ville Eye “removal of comments”…. Wait a minute…. Isn’t that censorship? You told us you do t do that Rob.

      • Rob says:

        You’re right. Maybe I should add some exception language that allows for when a troll can prove that they are back on their prescribed medication(s). I believe in second chances. Thanks for the input!

  5. Brian donahue says:

    Any answer to why you won’t ask the owners of Bucci’s why they’re closing the restaurant? Any intellectual curiosity even? Any sense of responsibility to your readers?

    • Rob says:

      Maybe I’ll do a follow up article for our readers if they’ll be candid with me. I’ll also inquire with staff who are about to lose their jobs to get an unbiased perspective.

      • Brian donahue says:

        Sure, because the employees know more than the owners about why the owners are going to close their restaurant, right? So that’s what you call journalism over here at E’Ville Eye. That’s all you owe your readers, right?

  6. Brian donahue says:

    So you’ve already made up your mind the owners of Bucci’s are going to lie to you. Nice way to seek the truth Rob. It looks like you have no respect for your readers.

    • Rob says:

      Wow Brian, I can almost feel your blood boiling from over here on Park Ave. Careful! BTW, do you know if “Troll repellent” comes in 55 SPF concentration?

  7. Anonymous says:

    To be fair, I’d say that including the MWO link without any evidence that this was part of the story is weak. But Brian and Rob both do this sort of speculation so the pot and the kettle are both black.

    At the same time reporting how Bucci’s handled the minimum wage is interesting. Finding out what the employees thought would also be interesting. And I would be particularly interested in knowing why they didn’t sell the business. A popular institution, a good brand, and a good location have to be worth something to another owner but it sounds like they’re just closing the doors instead. There could be other reasons, but maybe they didn’t sell the business because they couldn’t, because the finances weren’t what they used to be. Or maybe not.

    There are quite a few restaurants and businesses in the area that are struggling with the new minimum wage. I’ve talked to a few. Prices have risen much more than the unions and their ‘scientists’ told us. And I’m sure we will see more closings, some 100% because of the new wage, some partially because of the new wage, and some completely unrelated.

    And we will have interesting discussions about it here if you two could get on with your lives. Rob doesn’t need to be called names like “dead ender” (does that just mean someone who doesn’t hold your views on the minimum wage?) And Brian isn’t nuts just because he questions your story’s speculations.

    Brian should stop moderating his blog so we can have uncensored conversations in both places. And you two should leave the comments section of both blogs mostly to the rest of us.

    You guys get to write the articles. Let us make the comments.

    • Rob says:

      Thank you! This was a very reasonable comment and I encourage this type of constructive dialogue (I wish there were more of you!). I would like to understand the entire story here but it’s going to take me more time.

    • Rob says:

      Unfortunately, by Mr. Donahue’s metric, a large chunk of these “non-viable” businesses will be SMALL businesses leaving Emeryville with the “viable” chain model like Subway sandwiches. He can’t seem to comprehend anything beyond his idealistic, co-op utopia.

      • Brian donahue says:

        Nope. Just trying to make a polity about justice.

      • Rob says:

        Hopefully the EPD will make a “polity” and justice will be applied to harassers & bullies in our city.

      • Brian donahue says:

        Ok Rob- now you’re talking. Let’s encourage the police to be effective in arresting criminals in our midst. How about if you also not print heresay as fact. Because, you know journalism and fair mindedness and all?

  8. Brian donahue says:

    Sure Mr Anonymous, there likely will be some businesses that can’t hack the new minimum wage law. Those would be called non-viable businesses and we don’t want them here in Emeryville. We don’t want a polity that defers to the lowest common denominator of poorly managed businesses that makes our town a locus of human suffering. That’s not called governance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, I think the most accurate description would be “formerly viable businesses made non-viable by the Emeryville City Council” which is exactly the point.

      The “locus of human suffering” bit is dramatic but wrong. Almost the entire population of the country has worked a minimum wage or near minimum wage job at some point in our lives (generally when we were just getting started). My 20’s were not a locus of human suffering by any stretch of the imagination.

      The economics of it are simple as your comment acknowledges Raising the minimum wage makes some formerly viable businesses non-viable. It makes some jobs that were viable before, non-viable now.

      Businesses that finds opportunities for low skill workers are the best kind for a community. They prevent the gentrification of a community. These ‘locus of human suffering’ jobs are the ones that raise people out of poverty. If you are a business that can hire an unemployed worker with limited skills who wants a job, train that person, give them experience to put on their resume, pay them at the same time, and make money too…please do! It benefits everyone.

      The idea that these employers are keeping employees in poverty is also wrong. The vast majority of minimum wage workers are making above the minimum wage within a year, and the businesses who hire them are the ones that put people onto this upward trajectory. They take a person from unemployed, to receiving a minimum wage, to receiving more than the minimum wage.

      A City Council member who enacts an overly aggressive minimum wage is doing the opposite. They are taking people who were previously employed and making them unemployable.

      When you make it harder for employers to hire people or you demonize entry level employers for failing to singlehandedly take people all the way from 100% living on government subsidies to living a middle class lifestyle, then you hurt the poor, the young, and the unskilled…not to mention fixed income seniors, small local businesses, and the unemployed. And you hurt them in a big way.

      These small businesses are the bread and butter of America. The alternative is Wal-Mart and their kin. They have those high margins you admire because they have economies of scale that a small, local employer will never have.

      The dialogue on this is finally moving above the emotional ‘good vs evil locus of human suffering’ level and turning into something more thoughtful: an understanding that this is a trade-off.

      The minimum wage can’t be $100. It can’t also be $0. It is a balancing act.

      When you make drastic changes without understanding what you are doing, you do create suffering. When you do it as fast, as high, and with as little discretion as the Emeryville City Council, you hurt almost everyone.

      A gradual increase in the minimum wage to a historically reasonable level made a lot of sense. The Emeryville City Council didn’t do that, and the city and the entry level employees here will suffer the consequences.

  9. Brian donahue says:

    Oh also FYI, Bucci told me she’s doing an asset sale. She would be willing to sell the name as well (presumably if the price is right) but she doesn’t feel comfortable selling her name. I can say I don’t blame her.

    • Rob says:

      Well Mr. Donahue, I’m glad there’s at least one small business that you didn’t harass during the MWO debacle that will actually speak to you. Good for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      For a restaurant, an asset sale is pretty much the worst way to go. Most of the value in a restaurant is in the customer base, the location, the menu, the staff, the name, etc. That is, you’re selling an operating and profitable business. Even if you require a change of name, you’d preserve most of the value of the restaurant if the location remained the same. (This is different from an asset sale of say a technology company where the intellectual property and client list houses most of the value.)

      Selling the tables, chairs, and kitchen equipment isn’t really the end you would expect for a long-standing business like Bucci’s unless it is no longer particularly profitable or the owners just have a sentimental desire not to have anyone else run the business.

  10. Brian donahue says:

    Really Rob? Plying us with more E’Ville Eye “journalism” I see. So tell me Rob, were you there when this alleged crime happened? Or are you playing judge and jury? Is that how journalism is supposed to work? Heresay as news?

    • Rob says:

      So the half dozen or so businesses that claimed this is here-say? How many does it take to NOT be “here-say”?

    • Anonymous says:

      All journalism is “hearsay” (note the spelling my fine journalistos). You are reporting what others told you. That’s why your credibility is so important.

      Brian, rather than questioning Rob’s reporting, why don’t you tell us what happened? I’ve talked to the women at the coffee shop and their account matches what Rob reported. Let’s hear your side of it.

  11. Nicole G says:

    Thanks for sharing the very sad news. I love Bucci’s. It’s sad to see it go. It’s a rare breed of restaurant, especially these days. It had heart, charms and I always felt it’s a special place.

    To all the people using this story to try to defame each other: I find you annoying. Your petty back and forth is exhausting.

    I hope Bucci doesn’t read this.
    If you do: I will miss you!

  12. Mike Anderson says:

    Rob, I’m not affiliated with Brian Donahue in any way. And I’ve sent money to you before. But I have to tell you, it seems pretty dodgy to link the Bucci’s closing to the minimum wage ordinance if you don’t actually have any evidence the two things are connected. I don’t know if you consider your blog to be journalism, but basic journalism would mean contacting the restaurant owner to find out the facts instead of “speculating about them.”

    If you plan to continue your reporting in this fashion, I won’t be sending you money again.

    Mike Anderson

    • Rob says:

      Mike, thanks for your contributions. Blogging (I’ve never called myself a “journalist” although I’ll use the distinction of “Citizen journalism”) moves fast, there are few resources and sometimes you have to play hunches. This has served me fairly well and if I get things wrong, If I think they are egregious enough, I post them on out corrections page:
      https://evilleeye.com/corrections/

      In this case I conferred with Amelia tonight and she confirmed that this was not ultimately a variable in her decision. I’ve updated the post above accordingly. Thanks for being up front and expecting better of me.

  13. Anonymous says:

    damn…bucci u don ROCKED my world for a loooOOOOONG time and NOW I gotta say…maybe u gonna go to bigger and better stuff in life since Emery-bored is going to stalemate the scene…sigh…the LOCAL artist community will never be the same again for lunch-ing…

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