Totino's Italian Kitchen RIP

Fire up the oven and pull out the red cardboard box: You're going to have to make your Totino's Party Pizza at home, puffy, air-pocketed crust, pepperoni cubes, and all.

After 60 years in business, the Mounds View restaurant will serve its last meal on Sunday, the Pioneer Press reports.

Rose and Jim Totino opened the restaurant in its original Minneapolis location on Central Avenue NE, in 1951. More famously, they developed the frozen Totino's Pizza brand, which actually uses a different recipe from the restaurant's pies, and sold it to Pillsbury in the 1970s. (They used some of their pizza funds to support the private Catholic Grace High School, which became Totino-Grace as a result.)

Rose and Jim's grandson, Steve Elwell, bought the restaurant in 1987 and ran it in the original location until selling the building in 2007. When Totino's reopened in a former Mattress Factory in Mounds View, the restaurant traded cozy charm and big red booths for an ambiance that James Norton described in his excellent City Pages review as "sanitized" and "TGI Friday's-like."

The restaurant didn't get as many customers as it needed in the new location and thus Elwell decided to close. It'll be a tough transition for employees--Elwell had worked in the business since high school; his sister-in-law had been a waitress at Totino's for 25 years--and longtime customers, some who had been visiting since the 1950s.

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