Baba Louie's owner says he'll close Pittsfield restaurant
PITTSFIELD — Running three restaurants in two states for five years proved to be too much for Paul Masiero.
Saying he needs more time to be with his family, Masiero on Thursday said he plans to close Baba Louie's popular Pittsfield restaurant at 34 Depot St.
Baba Louie's two other restaurants, in Great Barrington and Hudson, N.Y., will remain open.
Known for its wood-fired sourdough crust pizza, Baba Louie's Pittsfield location will officially close on Wednesday. Masiero opened the restaurant in 2010.
"My wife (Eileen) and I just want to have a better life," Masiero said. "We have three little kids and our quality of life is really important to us, and having our family is really important to us. Having three restaurants and trying to run all three has just become a little too much.
"I have two years left with my daughter before she goes to (college)," he said. "I just want to see my kids, and watch them grow."
Masiero said he ruled out hiring someone else to run the Pittsfield eatery for him. "It would still take up a lot of my time," he said. "No one runs it better than the owner, you know what I mean?"
Deciding to close or stay open would have been easier if both he and his wife weren't involved in the business.
"It would be one thing if it was just one of us, and the other one could deal with the kids," he said. "But it takes both of us to run all three of them.
"The hardest part is saying goodbye to the staff," he said.
Baba Louie's has some 30 employees in Pittsfield.
"We're trying to transfer a few of them to our other restaurants, those with cars than can make it down there," he said. "The rest of them are going to be looking for jobs."
A bakery with four employees at 34 Depot St., which Baba Louie's maintains to make pizza crusts and bread for its three locations, will remain open after the Pittsfield restaurant is closed.
Masiero said Baba Louie's Pittsfield location was "very sound" financially, and that he had a good relationship with city officials. He said it was hard to walk away from a business that is successful.
"But there are just things in life that are just more important than money, to me," he said. "Not for everybody, but to me.
"This was a very tough, hard decision that my wife, and I have been tossing around for three and a half months."
Baba Louie's five-year lease with Whaling Properties expired in June, but discussions about the restaurant's future went on all summer, said Masiero and GCR's President George Whaling.
The two men declined to make the decision public until now because they didn't want to blindside Baba Louie's Pittsfield employees.
Whaling said Masiero had been given options to extend the lease.
"I was obviously hopeful that he would stay." Whaling said. "You know, this is not a lovefest. But if we in our portfolio ever had a AAA credit tenant it would be Baba Louie's.
"There was just no question about the professionalism, conduct as a tenant as far as paying bills and running a tight ship."
Whaling has already begun to advertise Baba Louie's space, which has up to 9,000 square feet. He's hoping to have another restaurant fill the space by the first quarter of 2016.
Masiero, who lives in Richmond, said it made more sense for him to close his Pittsfield restaurant than either of his other two eateries.
"They're older and more established," he said. "We own our building in Hudson too, so that wouldn't make sense. And the Great Barrington store is 20 years old, so we've got a solid foundation there.
"Saying goodbye to the staff who had our back and worked really hard to make this a successful restaurant, and saying goodbye to the customers who were so loyal is definitely the hardest part."
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