LODI, N.J. – The owner of Curioni’s Market in Lodi may have just set a record for the shortest retirement.
“I don’t know if it was the shortest in history, but it was pretty short,” said Walter Curioni, who closed his popular pizzeria on April 26.
Curioni said the outpouring of love from his customers made him change his mind about retirement. After he announced the business was closing, patrons brought him cards, gifts and even a cake, he said.
“We had been there like 94 years, and I knew the business was special, but I didn’t really realize how special it was until we closed,” Curioni said.
The business has been family owned since Curioni's grandfather opened it in 1923. His father began managing it in 1945, then he took over in 1975.
During each of its final five days in business, Curioni’s ran out of dough and sold out of pies by 9 a.m., Curioni said. People were buying pizza to freeze and to send to relatives in different states, he said.
“The response we got from the people was unbelievable. We ended up selling about 750 pies in five days,” he said.
Curioni, who is 65, said he decided to retire because the hours were too much on him. “I was putting in almost 80, 90 hours a week,” he said.
“I was home for about 10 days thinking, ‘If I cut the hours down, it could still be tolerable,” he said.
Curioni’s will now be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Curioni said his short-lived retirement “has been fantastic.” He spent time with his wife, visited his grandchildren and spent time in his backyard.
He thinks his new schedule will allow him to make his pizza-lovers happy, while still having time for things outside of the restaurant.
“If I just work until 4, it will be perfect,” he said.
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