Eastern Market Icon Roma Cafe Closes After 127 Years

Roma Cafe, which claimed to be Detroit’s longest operating Italian restaurant, quietly closed its doors in Eastern Market last week. Former head chef Guy Pelino has leased the building and plans to reopen a new restaurant under a different name, Crain’s first reports.

Regulars of the eatery located at 3401 Riopelle were met with a sign on the door informing them that the restaurant would be closed throughout the month of July. That sign was later replaced by one announcing that, “After 127 years of continuous service at this location, Roma Cafe is out-of-business and permanently CLOSED.” Owner Janet Sossi Belcoure wrote, “Grazie molto to all of the incredible people over the years who helped create so many wonderful memories at Roma. Arrivederci Roma! Love & Pasta.”

According to the owners, Roma Cafe has been operating continuously since the 1890s making it one of the oldest restaurants in the city. Belcoure’s great uncle Morris Sossi bought out the founders, the Marazza family, in 1919. Belcoure’s father Hector Sossi, who died last year at the age of 92, joined the business in the 1940s after serving in WWII. Hector and his wife Stella Sossi bought out Morris Sossi in the mid-1960s and it’s stayed in the family ever since.

Unable to find a buyer for the business, Belcoure made the decision to retire and close the restaurant this year. “It’s a very emotional thing for me, but I’m ready to retire,” she tells the Detroit News. “It’s just time. I’ve been running it by myself for quite a while, and it’s an exhausting business.”

Longtime Roma chef Guy Pelino, who took over the kitchens in 2014, has taken on the lease. Pelino is currently updating and repairing the interior for a new eatery, Roma’s Cucina, which is estimated to open in early September.

Belcoure plans to remain active in the restaurant and food community in Detroit, by continuing to serve on the Eastern Market Board and as a member of the Detroit Restaurant…

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