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October 19, 2018 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pontillo's, batavia's original, news, batavia, business.


People are lining up to buy a bit of Pontillo's history -- the custom-made, red, white and green booth seats that were first installed in the restaurant 30 years ago.

Batavia's Original owner Kathy Ferrara announced her plans to sell the booth seats and she immediately received several requests from would-be purchasers. She hasn't made any commitments yet. She's waiting for the replacement booths, which will be all black, to come in next week.

"I didn’t realize it would be such a big deal to people," Ferrara said.

A number of people expressed concern that she was selling Sam and Betty's booth, the one they always sat in, but it's not for sale and will stay in the restaurant, she said.

She's only selling the ones in the larger dining room. She said she remembers when that dining room opened. She had just started working as a server for Pontillo's and the new booths were installed before even the rest of the trim of the room was completed.

August 9, 2018 - 11:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia's original, Pontillo's, batavia, business, news.


Thirty years ago, Kathy Ferrara walked into Pontillo's thinking she was just taking a job to help her get through college at GCC.

She never left.

Today she is the owner of the successor to Pontillo's, Batavia's Original.

On Wednesday, she celebrated that 30th anniversary with friends, customers and employees.

"I loved it from day one," Ferrara said. "I look back and I wouldn’t have changed any of it. It was a great environment. I made lots of friends through customers, employees, hundreds of friendships."

Now, she says, she's just doing what she was taught by the Pontillos to do -- take care of employees and serve the community.

"I have pride and it’s humbling, both at the same time — to carry on the tradition of hiring students, college students and high school students, and watching them come through and seeing them make friendships here, just like I had when I was starting out."

November 22, 2017 - 11:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pontillo's, batavia's original, batavia, business, news, notify.


As friends and customers have found out her plans, people have told Kathy Ferrara, "This must have been your dream all along" -- becoming owner of Batavia's Original.

That's not the case, said Ferrara yesterday, hours after closing a deal with the previous owner, Jeff Reddish, of Rochester, to buy the popular local restaurant.

"I never planned on buying it," Ferrara said. "I just enjoyed what I did. I did it 100 percent. I was trustworthy. This wasn’t my plan. It was definitely that God wanted me here. I’ve tried leaving a couple of times and He made it really clear that this is where I’m supposed to be. He made this happen so only good things are going to come from that."

Before Batavia's Original was Batavia's Original, it was Pontillo's, Batavia's first pizza parlor, and Ferrara started working for Sam and Betty Pontillo 29 years ago as a waitress.

Sam and Betty, she said, took her under their wings and taught her the pizza business from top to bottom. She was trained in every job in the restaurant.

By the time Sam and Betty's sons took over, she was a manager.  

When that business collapsed in 2010, Ferrara was the one who broke the news to the staff.

When Reddish bought the business and the building at 500 E. Main St. out of bankruptcy, it was Ferrara that Reddish called to run the business.

"Jeff Reddish taught me the ins and outs of the business," Ferrara said. "He taught me how to make payroll and meet food costs together. He was a good teacher. He was great to work for, a really good boss, fair, basically let me do things the way we've been doing all these years."

Earlier this year, Ferrara asked Reddish, who owns restaurants in Rochester, if she could become a partner in the Batavia location.

"He wasn’t looking to sell," Ferrara said. "He wasn’t going to put it on the market. That wasn’t in his plan at all. I approached him and he said ‘I’m not looking to sell, but I would sell it to you.’ He’s the one who got the ball rolling and made it happen.”

Ferrara is a graduate of Pembroke High School and Genesee Community College. She is married with three children, Ashley, Mary-Grace, and Daniel, and one grandson.

Local ownership of the restaurant is important to Ferrara, she said. She will have more control over local promotions, support of local charities and organizations, and who she hires as vendors.

"Now that it is locally owned again, that makes a big difference," Ferrara said. "Everybody I’ve dealt with so far, the website designer, maintenance, plumbers, they’re all local. So everything is back local, in Genesee County, so that only helps the community."

She will keep the name, Batavia's Original, picked after Reddish learned he couldn't retain the name Pontillo's. Ferrara said it only makes sense.

"This is the original pizza of Batavia," she said. "It’s the same recipe. We haven’t changed any of the recipes."

The return of Pontillo's/Batavia's Original to local ownership will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting at noon on Saturday.

Ferrara said she will also continue Sam and Betty's tradition of taking good care of the staff and ensuring restaurant guests get great service.

"Everybody is treated fairly," Ferrara said. "It’s a fun environment to work. I always work around their schedules. The staff is mostly college students and high schoolers."

Being able to do more for the staff of 35 employees is another reason Ferrara was motivated to buy the business, she said. Taking care of employees pays off in better customer service.

"Anybody who comes here to eat will always leave with a good experience," Ferrara said. "Everyone who works here gives 100 percent. I get compliments all day long about the staff. People say they look like they love it here and they do. That’s something the Pontillos taught me, is how to treat the staff. Sam and Betty treated everybody like family."

Photos by Steve Ognibene.


August 3, 2011 - 9:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

There's a pizza joint in town that calls itself "Batavia's Original" and claims it was established in 1947, but whatever claim the shop has to a once legendary local pizzeria was lost three weeks ago when the company fired its manager, Sam Pontillo.

Pontillo helped a group of Rochester investors open the pizzeria at 500 E. Main St., Batavia, in a building that was once home to a Pontillo's restaurant owned and operated by Sam's parents, Sal and Betty Pontillo. 

Sal, more commonly known as Sam, with his brother Anthony, opened the original Pontillo's at the corner of Liberty and Ellicott streets in 1947. The original Pontillo's was the first pizzeria in Batavia and helped create a new pizzeria industry in Western New York.

Sam Pontillo says it's time for the Rochester-based owners to stop trading on his family's name.

Besides the claim to being established in 1947, the restaurant's menu also has a picture of Sal Pontillo right in the middle of it (pictured above).

"It (the menu picture) should come off now," Sam said. "There's no Pontillo involved and we’re not getting residual from it. They're going to milk it for as long as they can, but they should do the stand-up thing and remove it."

"As for the 1947," Sam added, "how can they really use it? There’s a family attachment to 1947. I’m sure some lawyer will say it’s just a number, but it’s a significant number to my family."

Batavia's Original is a DBA of Batavia Pizza, LLC, a creation of Thomas Masaschi, Jeffrey Reddish and Jason Teller.

The Rochester-based group acquired the 500 E. Main St. location in 2009 after a bank foreclosed on the property.

The owners then hired Sam, who still operated the Pontillo's location in Le Roy, as the new shop's general manager and opened as Pontillo's in April 2010.

A few months later, Anthony Pontillo's heirs (Anthony filed for a federal trademark on "Pontillo's" in the 1980s) filed a trademark infringement suit against Batavia Pizza, LLC.

The suit was settled out of court and and the name of the restaurant was changed.

Local sources who have followed the Pontillo's saga immediately speculated that without the ability to use the Pontillo's name, Sam Pontillo wouldn't be long for employment at Batavia's Original.

It's a bit of speculation that Sam, now out of Batavia's Original, doesn't argue against.

"I make no bones about it," Sam said. "I told our management staff that when the owners felt they could do it on their own, they wouldn't need me anymore because there was no longer a Pontillo's name on the sign."

Sam said he was let go three weeks ago because, he said he was told, he wasn't bringing in enough money.

"Of course, at some point about this time, I was due for a pay increase," Pontillo said. "It's a corporate thing. It's a story that's repeated all the time. They're hardcore businessmen."

The Batavian called the real estate investment office of Thomas Masaschi this afternoon and requested an interview. We were told he wasn't available and left a message. The call has not yet been returned.

Sam Pontillo said he isn't rooting against Batavia's Original at all. He said he's proud of the people he hired and trained and believes they will do a great job with the business.

"I think it will go on as long as everybody gets their noses to the grindstone and does what I taught them to do," Sam said. "It will continue to be a great place that employs a lot of kids from the community and continues to serve the community as it has always done." 

Sam Pontillo isn't the only Pontillo who takes issue with Batavia's Original trying to trade on the Pontillo's name. Sam's brother John was quite pointed in his remarks this morning.

"They're using my father's face on their menu and it's not right," John said. "I don't think it's very respectful to use a picture of a man who is dead. He hasn't endorsed their business."

John currently operates a pizzeria -- Gio Vanna's -- in Geneseo and was planning to open a shop in the former Pontillo's location in Le Roy.

After paying off back taxes on the property, John said he was planning to buy the building from the estate of Betty Pontillo, but he claims Sam removed the furnace and the hot water heater.

"The building we agreed to buy is not the same building the estate has for sale," John said.

Sam disagrees.

"If he would just look on the roof, there's a practically brand new heating system there," Sam said.

As for hot water, there's still hot water available in the building, Sam said.

He added that he thinks the Le Roy location is a fine building that he cared for meticulously.

"I hope somebody buys it," he said. "It's a great location."

As for Sam's future, it's wide open, he said.

He's looking at options for new businesses from Brooklyn to Albany and even Dubai.

"I'm 52," Sam said. "I figure I'll ride out the next project out until retire. Hopefully it will be rewarding, so I’m just being careful before I move on. 

"I'll tell you," he added. "I'm not missing working seven days a week."

Whatever the future, Sam said he doesn't see himself going back in business with his brothers John and Paul. There's just too much water under the bridge after a few years of disagreements.

"It's unfortunate how things worked out," Sam said. "We were all great buddies growing up, but business got in the way and killed those relationships."

But none of what has happened means there won't be a Pontillo's in Genesee County again some day.

"If I could swing it some time and open a Pontillo’s and show the neon sign again in Batavia, it would be a big hit," Sam said.

Even if isn't owned by Sam, he said he's got at least one son, now studying hospitality in college, who might want to operate a Pontillo's some day.

"If that’s what he wants, I'll absolutely go to it and get it done for him," Sam said.

He said he feels he still owns the rights to a Pontillo's business in Genesee County.

Asked if there was anything he wanted to add, Sam thanked his staff and customers.

"You're only as good as people around you," Sam said. "I had a great staff around me. I also just need to thank people of Batavia and Le Roy, where I think I still have a following. It was a pleasure to serve them, it was a ball, it was riot. I will miss the customers. Maybe someday I'll throw a party somewhere and invite them all over." 

For previous coverage of Pontillo's, click here.

March 29, 2011 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

One of Batavia's most historic landmarks, the Pontillo's sign on the pizzeria at the corner of East Main Street and Harvester Avenue, was removed this morning and replaced by a "Batavia's Original Pizzeria" sign.

Three investors from Rochester bought the former Pontillo's location and opened it as Pontillo's in early 2010, but they were served with a trademark infringement suit in September.

In early December, the name of the business was changed to Batavia's Original Pizzeria.

The new sign says Batavia's Original was established in 1947.

The original Pontillo's closed in the fall of 2008 and the property was eventually sold at a foreclosure auction. The Rochester investors purchased the property from the bank that bought it at auction. (Financial history covered in this story.)

Sam Pontillo, son of Salvatore and Elizabeth Pontillo, is manager of Batavia's Original.

The Le Roy Pontillo's location was closed a couple of months ago and Sam Pontillo reportedly removed all of the equipment. His brother, John Pontillo, may be planning to open another pizzeria at that location. John currently operates a pizzeria in Geneseo.

January 11, 2011 - 7:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Le Roy, Pontillo's.


One of Batavia's landmark signs has been partially shut off the past few nights, and a new sign has gone up on the historic Pontillo's location. It reads "Batavia's Original."

Meanwhile, an ad in the Le Roy PennySaver this week announced that the Le Roy Pontillo's location will close its doors Thursday. All gift certificates for that location must be used by that date, the ad said.

The owners of the Batavia Pontillo's/Batavia's Original were served with a federal trademark infringement suit in September. There's no word on the status of that lawsuit.

In October, it was disclosed that the Le Roy location is allegedly delinquent in taxes, with $24,261 owed to the county, school district, village and town.  If not paid, the property could go up  for auction in March. UPDATE: County Treasurer Scott German says the property taxes were paid in December.

Sam Pontillo told WBTA that his parent's estate owned a majority share of the Le Roy location.

"I didn't want to be tied to there with the mortgage anymore," Pontillo said. "So, I think it's time for something new for me."

In November 2008, when the Batavia Pontillo's location closed, Sam Pontillo told the Batavia Daily News: "I do not own that one," Sam said, pointing west toward Batavia from the Le Roy Pontillo's. "I own this one."

The estate has been tied up in a protracted lawsuit.

December 5, 2010 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.


There are lots of bright lights in Batavia this time of year, but a legendary one has been turned off.

When you drive down Main Street tonight, the familiar green and red neon sign of Pontillo's will be dark.

The restaurant will be open, but under a new name: Batavia's Original.

Earlier this year, the location's new owner, Batavia Pizza, LLC, a creation of Thomas Masaschi, Jeffrey Reddish and Jason Teller out of Rochester, were served with a lawsuit charging trademark infringement by the Pontillo family in Rochester.

No word on the status of the suit.

For our previous coverage of issues related to this Pontillo's location, click here.

November 10, 2010 - 5:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Pontillo's.


In the aftermath of the York Road fire Saturday, a reader mentioned that homeowner and taxidermist Bill Scheg had once stuffed a giraffe that had died while in a parade in Le Roy.

To answer one of the questions that came up, I stopped into Pontillo's while I was in Le Roy today to see if it is still there -- it is.

October 22, 2010 - 11:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, business, taxes, Le Roy, Pontillo's.

Foreclosure proceedings have begun against 68 county properties because of unpaid taxes, including the Le Roy Pontillo's location, according to County Treasurer Scott German.

Pontillo's owes for three years of back taxes, including school, town, village and county, totaling $24,261.

The delinquent property owners have until Jan. 14 to make final payment on their back taxes to avoid having the property sold at auction.

The auction will be scheduled for some time in March or April.

German said typically, 50 to 55 of the property owners will settle their tax issues prior to foreclosure.

All of the property owners have been sent letters, and notices have been published in two daily newspapers, with additional notifications pending.

September 2, 2010 - 12:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

Three Monroe County businessmen who bought the former Pontillo's location on East Main Street, Batavia, and reopened the legendary location as "Pontillo's" have drawn the ire of the Rochester wing of the Pontillo's family.

pontillos_corner.jpgPontillo's Family Pizza, Inc., led by David Pontillo, nephew and son of the Pontillo's founders, has filed a trademark infringement suit against Batavia Pizza, LLC, owned by Thomas Masaschi, Jeffrey Reddish and Jason Teller.

The trio bought the 500 E. Main Street building and land late in 2009 from a firm that had acquired it in foreclosure. Then they reopened it as Pontillo's Pizzeria in April, hiring one of Salvatore Pontillo's son's, Sam Pontillo, to manage it.

Pontillo's Family Pizza, which overseas the operations of more than a dozen Pontillo's locations in the Rochester area, is claiming that Batavia Pizza never asked for, nor received, permission to use the Pontillo's name.

David's father, Anthony Pontillo, brother of Salvatore, filed for and received a federally registered trademark for "Pontillo's" in 1984.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for damaged business reputation, as well as all revenue and any profits of the new Batavia Pontillo's, plus any damages that might be awarded at trial, plus attorney's fees.

The suit also seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against Batavia Pizza prohibiting the use of the Pontillo's name by the ownership group.

The Pontillo brothers founded one of the first post-war pizzerias in the United States in Batavia in 1947, and a few years later, Anthony headed out for Rochester to start a chain of pizzerias under the same name.

According to John and Paul Pontillo, there was an agreement between families not to infringe on each other's territory so long as Pontlllo's remained a family business.

In the lawsuit, Pontillo's Family Pizza contends that contrary to an early presentation by the Monroe County businessmen, Sam Pontillo, is not a partner in Batavia Pizza, and even if he were, Pontillo's Family Pizza would not have given him permission to use the Pontillo's trade name in a re-established Batavia enterprise.

"Because of his tax problems, Pontillo's Family Pizza, Inc., will not give Mr. Sam C. Pontillo the right to use PONTILLO'S to operate a pizzeria," reads a letter dated June 18 and written by attorney Stephan B. Salai to an attorney representing Masaschi and his partners.

It was one of two letters the ownership group received from the Rochester Pontillo's demanding that Masaschi and his partners stop using the Pontillo's name.

Sam and Paul Pontillo were operating the Batavia location when mounting debts and tax bills apparently forced them to close the store in November 2008. John Pontillo had also been involved in the operation at one time, and all three brother's dispute just how the family business fell into failure.

Sam has continued to operate the Le Roy Pontillo's, though John has made attempts to acquire it.

There is a pending lawsuit filed by the estate of Elizabeth Pontillo against Sam and Paul.


July 15, 2010 - 5:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

A series of motions filed by the estate of Elizabeth Pontillo seeking money and property from Sam and Paul Pontillo was dismissed by County Court Judge Robert C. Noonan on June 30.

pontillos_corner.jpg"Nonetheless, the instant motion will be denied in its entirety for want of a clear and convincing demonstration of either a likelihood of ultimate success on the merits, the prospect of irreparable injury or a balancing of the equities in a plaintiff's favor," Noonan wrote in his decision. "Accordingly, the Plaintiff's Motion is hereby denied, and the temporary restraining order previously granted is hereby vacated."

It's unclear how this ruling impacts the lawsuit filed against the Sam and Paul by the estate.

Brian Degnan, attorney for the estate, could not be reached this afternoon, and Sam Pontillo's attorney, Reid Whiting, refused to come to the phone.

Degnan filed motions in June requesting Sam Pontillo not be allowed to remove equipment or enter the property of the Pontillo's in Le Roy, that he return all business equipment taken, and that he pay back rents, taxes and profits associated with the Le Roy location.

The estate, being administered by John Forsyth, also sought back rent from Paul Pontillo for the time he was living at 64 Vernon Ave., Batavia, the former residence of his parents, and an accounting of various items believed to be in the house at one time.

In his answer to the motion, Whiting accused Forsyth of a conflict of interest and a lack of good faith in dealing with Sam Pontillo.

In an answering affidavit, Sam Pontillo says that as accountant for the various Pontillo's businesses in Genesee County, he had access to financial information and other company secrets, "many of which he is now using in a selective manner to the detriment of defendants. As such, he has an obvious conflict of interest as a litigant."

Sam also notes, to his "amazement," John Pontillo was not sued by the estate, despite being involved in the business operations at one time.

He accuses John and Paul of mismanaging the "'goose that laid the golden egg' to the point of insolvency and desperate need for a subprime mortgage."

"He (John) was personally and highly involved in the demise of the Batavia store and its foreclosure," Sam writes.  

He accused John of removing a seven-ton HVAC unit from the Batavia location.

"John was an officer and manager of the Batavia store for a substantial time during which it failed to pay sales tax, payroll taxes and real property taxes and numerous suppliers," according to Sam.

One of the chief financial decisions that led to loss of the Batavia store, based The Batavian's previous reporting of this story, was taking out a mortgage on the property in November 2008. Sam Pontillo states that he "adamantly opposed" his mother's execution of the mortgage, "particularly at the exorbitant rate of 16 percent."

"Paul and John, not just Paul, have a lot to explain about the demise of that business," Sam writes.

As for the property Forsyth claimed belonged to the estate, Sam Pontillo provide copies of checks showing that he spent about $20,000 on the equipment, out of his own business entity, Le Roy Dough Boys, Inc.

Sam Pontillo also accuses John Forsyth of not answering his offers to buy the Le Roy Store or a proposed lease on the property.

As part of the lawsuit, the estate has sought some $50,000 in back rent from San Pontillo for the Le Roy location. The back rent is calculated at $2,500 per month. An affidavit from Daniel K. O'Shea, who says he's a lifelong resident of Le Roy, and an owner of downtown village property, says there is no property in the village worth more than $1,000 per month and the total estimated value of the Le Roy location is $100,000.

Sam states that even though he was never associated with Sam's Tomato Pies, either as employee, shareholder or director, the IRS has placed a lien on the home owned solely by his wife in Albany in an attempt to collect back taxes from the corporation.

"Plaintiffs and my brothers are lashing out at me without any factual or legal justification," Sam writes. "I suspect they are solely motivated by the base emotion of envy as a result of the position I secured with the new owners of the Batavia store

"As manager of the Batavia pizzeria, opened on April 6, 2010, I am not in competition with the Pontillo Family Partnership or the estate. I am merely earning a just living to support my wife and three sons, despite the shabby obstacles plaintiffs and my brothers have tried to place in my path."

April 20, 2010 - 6:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's, Dave's Produce.


Kathy Pettinella says in November 2008, she almost lost her business -- a business started and built by her late husband and late son 15 years ago.

Her business, Dave's Produce, relies on cash in the bank so she can buy product at farmers' markets and deliver it to local restaurants.

So when one local restaurant allegedly stiffed her for nearly $70,000, it really hurt.

"Oh, my God -- I am done. I’m absolutely done." Pettinella said were her first thoughts when she learned of the original Pontillo's Pizzeria closing. "Looking at all that money, I went through all my bank statements, my deposit slips, I was in trouble. I couldn’t cut back anything anymore out of my household budget."

How and why Pontillo's was allegedly able to run up all that debt is something Kathy still can't fully explain, but until last week, when The Batavian wrote about the debt in a story on  financial issues surrounding the Pontillo family and their legendary pizza business, she said nobody in Batavia knew about the debt. It was something she wanted to keep secret.

She said she was shaking the first time she answered a call from The Batavian asking about the debt.

"I was petrified," Pettinella said of her long-standing fear of people finding out about the debt. "I was was afraid people would think, ‘What a stupid woman. That’s why women don’t run businesses because they would drive it into the ground.'"

"That was my initial thought -- that I just made a bad example for the rest of women who are working so hard to run their own small businesses."

April 15, 2010 - 6:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.


Staggering debts -- to the government, bankers and suppliers -- appear to be what led to the closing of Batavia's most legendary pizzeria in November 2008.

At the time the restaurant closed, suppliers were possibly owed in the neighborhood of $220,000, according to a document obtained by The Batavian. In addition to those debts, there were unpaid mortgages exceeding $354,000 and taxes of more than $250,000 due. 

Many of these debts, outside of the mortgage, which was amply paid off in foreclosure proceedings, appear to be unsettled to this day, including more than $10,000 owed to a local funeral home that handled arrangements for Elizabeth "Betty" Pontillo following her death on Aug. 5, 2008.

In total, debts associated either with Pontillo's Pizzeria at 500 E. Main St., Batavia, or with Betty's estate, exceeded $850,000.

Disputes over those debts -- how they occurred, who is responsible, and who allegedly stole what or lied to whom -- has pitted brother against brother in the Pontillo family.

John and Paul have harsh words for Sam, and Sam isn't talking, but in previous news articles, he hasn't necessarily been kind to his siblings.

John, Paul and Sam are the sole surviving children of Salvatore ("Sam" Sr.) and Betty Pontillo (Daniel Pontillo died in 1957 and Elizabeth Mullen died in 2003; her son, John Mullen, is an heir to the estate).

Salvatore founded Pontillo's Pizzeria in Batavia with his brothers in 1947. It inspired scores of other pizzerias, including a chain founded by Salvatore's brother, Anthony, in Rochester that bears the Pontillo's name.  

Last week, Sam, working with business associates from Rochester, opened a Pontillo's Pizzeria at the old Batavia location.

Both John and Paul say they resent how Sam is being seen as some kind of hero in Batavia when he's the one who brought down, according to them, the original Pontillo's, especially when, according to John, Sam cheated a number of local business owners out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Even as Sam enjoys a busy opening week, he faces the possible loss of the Le Roy location. Genesee County records show property taxes on those parcels haven't been paid in nearly three years. According to County Treasurer Scott German, foreclosure procedures could start on July 1 if the debts remain outstanding.

It's also not clear if the new owners of Pontillo's Pizzeria in Batavia can legally operate a restaurant under that name. The federal trademark for "Pontillo's" is owned by the estate of Anthony Pontillo, but both John and Paul contend that rights to the name in Batavia are still owned by the estate of Betty Pontillo. 

Whether Sam is part owner in the new business is also unclear. John said Sam has represented himself as a part owner; Paul is convinced Sam is nothing more than a salaried employee.

Tom Masaschi, a Rochester developer who purchased the Batavia Pontillo's location for $400,000 last December, and is reportedly one of the investors in the new business, has not returned calls to The Batavian.

On Sunday, when told John and Paul had spoken with The Batavian, Sam declined an interview request for the third time.

"It's been a long 15 months," said a broadly smiling Sam as he stood at the walk-in counter of the Batavia Pontillo's, which was packed with customers. "I'm only looking forward now."

March 5, 2010 - 2:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

A bit of confirmation of rumors that Sam Pontillo is working on a deal to reopen the legendary pizzeria on East Main Street came out of the Genesee County Economic Development Center today.

Pontillo's potential landlord, BP Properties out of Rochester, was granted a $6,875 property-tax exemption by the GCEDC.

GCEDC officials said BP Properties and Sam Pontillo are trying to secure refinancing on $500,000 in debt left over from the previous operation.

(via WBTA)


February 26, 2010 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.


Covered by a giant tarp because business signs cannot appear on the outside of buildings that are for sale, according to city code, the neon-lit Pontillo's Pizzeria sign once again hangs proudly from the building at 500 E. Main St., Batavia.

Could it be a sign that Sam Pontillo is getting close to reopening the legendary restaurant? We still haven't heard from Sam or building owner Thomas Masachi about what's going on there, but crews continue to work inside the building.

February 24, 2010 - 6:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

What's up with Pontillo's? I get asked that question nearly every day. We've all seen the work crews there.

What a couple other people have seen is Sam Pontillo at the 500 E. Main St., Batavia, location.

Over the past two weeks I've called Sam Pontillo several times. I've left a few messages. I have not heard back from him.

I've also called the property owner, Thomas Masaschi, and left messages. No return call.

Admittedly, third hand, I've heard that another restaurant owner tried to buy the old Pontillo's sign and was told it wasn't for sale -- that there were plans for it.

So at this point, we only have rumors and speculation, but for all the people who keep asking me what's going on, that's the only answer I can give at this point.

January 26, 2010 - 2:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

A Rochester-based real estate developer has acquired the old Pontillo's building at 500 E. Main St., Batavia.

Thomas Masachi said today that he isn't ready yet -- perhaps next week -- to discuss the plans he and his partners have for the location. 

Masachi, who is in the RIT Hall of Fame for his success in hockey and lacrosse, would not discuss the price he paid for the location, and that information has not yet become publicly available.

One of Western New York's most legendary pizzerias, Pontillo's closed in November 2008 after falling behind more than $112,000 in its taxes. John Pontillo made an attempt to buy the business and location out of probate, but he said his offers were rejected. The property was then sold at auction to a bank in Rochester, which in turn sold the property to Masachi.

For his part, John Pontillo is continuing to work on a plan to open a new pizzeria in Batavia. Reached yesterday, he said he hasn't settled on a location yet.

Meanwhile, Sam Pontillo continues to operate a Pontillo's Pizzeria in Le Roy on Main Street.

December 9, 2009 - 10:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather, Pontillo's.

Batavia Police are responding to a report that part of the roof of Pontillo's has blown off and is currently traveling eastbound on Main Street.

UPDATE: A little while ago, a Batavia Police officer reported the roof portion was recovered and returned to the Pontillo's property.

September 5, 2009 - 2:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

John Pontillo says he has tried doing everything he can to save Pontillo's on East Main Street in Batavia.

So far, all of his offers to buy the building and the business have been rejected. He doesn't know why.

"I offered a solution that gave the family business a chance to reopen and keep it in the family," John Pontillo said this afternoon. "It could be open right now. I made an offer that would have allowed us to take care of all our creditors. Bankers looked at it and real estate people looked at it and business people looked at it and all said, 'John, this is a good offer.'

"It's very frustrating. I don't know why it was rejected."

The landmark Pontillo's, which Sam Pontillo founded in 1947, shut down in November, with a sign appearing in the parking lot saying it was closed for remodeling. It turned out, however, that the business owed more than $112,000 in back taxes.

The brothers were soon in court trying to settle estate and debt issues and who would run the business.

And the fate of Pontillo's has been tied up in court since.

"We all grew up in this business," John said. "I would like to keep it in the family."

A for-sale sign appeared on Pontillo's yesterday about 4 p.m., but John is skeptical that the business and building can be sold before creditors foreclose on the property. He fears if his offer isn't accepted before foreclosure, there will be no more Pontillo's in Batavia -- not the family business his parents nutured into a regionally renowned destination for pizza and pasta.

As local restaurateur Sean Valdes noted in a comment yesterday, "This will be a hard building to sell as a restaurant. The overhead will be a challenge."

We have a call into Sam Pontillo seeking his comment on the situation.

September 4, 2009 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.


This is a reader-submitted photo of a for-sale sign on the Pontillo's building on E. Main Street in Batavia. A caller informs us the sign was placed on the building at 4 p.m. We're working on getting more information.

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