Groundbreaking St. Paul restaurant Muffuletta closing after 40-year run

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The Twin Cities was a different place when Phil Roberts and Pete Mihajlov opened Muffuletta in 1977.

Take, for example, the fact that their St. Paul restaurant had one of the first outdoor dining patios in the region.

The eclectic Euro bistro was a first for many reasons, including the first in what would become Roberts' and Mihajlov's Parasole Restaurant Holdings, which today operates Manny’s Steakhouse, Salut Bar Americain, and Chino Latino (the group's "millennial baby"), along with a number of other properties.

But Roberts told the Strib that while their first really was always their favorite, it's been in trouble for a long time.

“We’ve kept ‘Muff’ open for longer than we should,” he said, adding that construction scheduled for Como Avenue would have been Muffuletta's final death blow. “We’ve kept it open for purely emotional reasons, because we’ve bonded with the neighborhood. It was a tough decision. But we haven’t made money here in a long time. Our lease is up come December, and we’ve decided not to renew it.”

It won't be easy to close "Muff" -- Roberts told the Pioneer Press that all of his children worked at the restaurant, and that it made that community "a better place to live." But he's sure someone will pick up where he and Mihajlov left off, doing something that's as different and inventive today as their European-style bistro was back in 1977.

Muffuletta's last day of service will be November 11.

2260 Como Ave., St. Paul; 651-644-9116