An unexpected eviction notice has brought an abrupt end to a beloved community gathering spot in the Roseway neighborhood.
Mark Caso, whose family has owned and operated Bacchi’s Italian Delicatessen at 6633 N.E. Sandy Blvd. for three and a half years, found a note taped to the shop’s front door on the morning of April 20.
The notice of termination of tenancy from the law office of Lan D. Nguyen – representing the landlord Kameron Limited Partnership – gave Bacchi’s until June 22 to vacate the premises. The family-owned deli, which has built a strong reputation in the community as a space for neighbors to meet and gather, served its last sandwich on Saturday, June 18.
“We don’t have another place like this in the neighborhood. It’s open at 6:30 in the morning and people can come in and congregate,” said Erica Somes, a teacher and regular customer who lives three blocks from the shop. “We meet other people in the neighborhood and learn people’s names. Mark knows everything about everyone. He knows who we are and who our kids are. My dad was in the hospital and Mark made cannoli for us. He went home to get the cannoli shells because he was out. He goes far, far, far beyond what I’ve ever known a restaurateur to do. I think it’s because he thinks of us as an extended part of his family and we’re not just people who are buying things from his business.”
“My daughter loves coming in and getting his cannoli. She wanted a cannoli cake for her birthday,” said Somes. “Mark makes an Italian wedding cake and I asked him if he could make one for her birthday – and he usually only does them for weddings – but he made one for her and he wouldn’t even let me pay for it. It was the hit of the party and he made a little girl very happy.”
“I love Bacchi’s. I really do,” said Somes’ daughter Z, who will be a sixth-grader at da Vinci next year. “I asked for Bacchi’s gift certificates for my birthday and I got more than $50 in gift certificates from my friends.”
“I don’t know what my plans are honestly,” said Caso. “I’m going to take the summer off and decompress. My wife’s a schoolteacher, so I’ll get to spend some time with her. I’ll get some sleep, and at the end of the summer I’ll decide what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll go back into construction or maybe we’ll open up another space somewhere.”
“When we were served our eviction notice, the first thing I did was go out and look for another space,” said Caso. “I needed a bigger space anyway, so this is like a door that’s opened for me. But after a month of looking, I pretty much came up empty-handed. We’re going to clean everything up and put it all in storage for now.”
The space on Sandy was previously used as offices for another Caso business, Energy Solutions, which specialized in residential weatherization projects. Caso launched the venture to pursue stimulus funding, after he was laid off as a construction manager at Xerox during the recession. When the weatherization business started winding down, the family decided to open a deli, which had always been a dream of Caso’s.
“We almost didn’t do it here, because the space was so small, but we decided to go ahead and squeeze the deli into the tiny space – almost as a proof of concept,” said Caso. “I’m very emotional about it. The meatball recipe that we use came down from my great-grandmother. We live in the neighborhood and we’ve seen Bacchi’s become a special place. It’s become a gathering spot for friends who didn’t know each other, who met here and maintained friendships. It almost became like a ‘Cheers’ bar – and that far outweighed any expectations I had when I started this business.”
“Now, when you come here in the morning, there’s 12-18 people coming in for coffee everyday, all at the same time, to meet here and hang out and have an hour together,” said Caso. “These are folks who had not met each other before, but now are friends. We’ll move that group somewhere else. I don’t know where yet, but we’ll move it because it’s become way too dear to me for me to let it go.”
“There’s a boy who lives around the corner, Ike, he’s my daughter’s age. He came in the first day we opened three years ago and ordered a hot chocolate,” said Caso. “He came in the next day and the day after that. He comes in every day, religiously. He stocks chips for me. He puts chairs outside. He gets water and he helps the guys with coffee. He sits down and he hangs out every morning before school. His payment is he gets a bagel or a hot chocolate. For three years he’s been doing that. That’s what I’m going to miss the most. The kids who come in, in the morning, for a hot chocolate while they’re waiting for the bus. The soccer clubs who come in at lunchtime and take up the whole restaurant. They’re like my family.”
“I’ll walk away and I’ll be fine, but I think the neighborhood will miss having a place,” said Caso. “Because I live in the neighborhood, the people who I see when I’m shopping at Safeway or cutting my grass, they all know me as the guy from Bacchi’s. It makes me feel almost like a celebrity.”
The Caso family – Mark, Joan, Corbett and Audrey – posted this farewell message to the Nextdoor neighborhood social site:
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce Bacchi’s will be closing. It has been our pleasure and privilege to serve our neighbors and friends, and not possible to put into the words the depths of our gratitude to the community. We are leaving with sadness, but also with wonderful memories.”