MODESTO -- After 37 years as a downtown Modesto institution, Gervasoni's Restaurant has been sold and Gary Gervasoni has retired.
The quick and unexpected deal closed last week. The Ninth Street eatery was sold to one of its chefs, Rosalie Clark, and her daughter, Serena Sisson.
"No one was more shocked than we were that it went through that fast," said Myrna Gervasoni, Gary's wife. "They pulled this deal together in less than a month."
Gervasoni said her husband who is almost 75 "just finally burned out."
"Going down there every day became a chore for him rather than a pleasure," she said. He had wanted to sell the restaurant for a while, but she said they couldn't convince a real estate agent to market it.
That's because the land beneath the restaurant soon may be purchased by the state of California for Stanislaus County's new courthouse.
So the Gervasonis brokered their own deal. The sale is for the restaurant only, not the building or the property.
That means if that site is selected for the courthouse, the new owners will have to move.
"If they choose this location, we'll just have to go with the flow," Clark said. "We plan on keeping the Gervasoni's name, whatever happens."
Clark, 49, graduated from culinary school a couple of years ago, and she began cooking at the restaurant about six months ago. She said the sales offer sounded like a good deal, and she and her daughter "wanted to take a shot" at owning their own place.
"We made it as easy for them as we could in the sales terms," Myrna Gervasoni said. Details of the deal were not revealed, but purchase payments apparently will be spread out over time. "We really want them to succeed."
For now, at least, the restaurant's menu is "completely the same," Clark said, but some of the 12-member staff has changed.
"Our former employees are not really thrilled with us because we didn't give them any notice," said Gervasoni, noting the quickness of the sale. "We have regrets about not being able to have a party for our clientele and staff."
After decades serving others, however, Gervasoni said her husband is enjoying his retirement and being "responsibility free."
This week, for example, he's off on a fishing trip.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2196.