Often, a shift in ownership spells major change for a business. But the new owners of Sally’s Apizza, a longtime family-owned New Haven institution, hope to maintain the character of the Wooster Square pizzeria.
Sally’s, the 80-year-old pizzeria at 327 Wooster St., was sold in December to Lineage Hospitality in a move that shifted ownership from the family that owned the joint for two generations to a recently formed business in Lineage, which eventually plans to expand the brand beyond the Elm City. After a nearly two-month long closure to work out the logistics of a change in ownership, Sally’s will celebrate its reopening at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
“The owners of Lineage are lovers of Sally’s,” said Aaron Allen, a spokesman for Lineage Hospitality. “[They] really want to protect the Sally’s brand … Ultimately, the Lineage goal is to preserve and protect American culinary history.”
In 1938, the husband-and-wife team of Salvatore and Flora — Sally and Flo — Consiglio opened the now-iconic restaurant on Wooster Street, where it remains today. Sally Consiglio founded the restaurant 13 years after his uncle, Frank Pepe, opened Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana.
For the past eight decades, the two rivals have coexisted, just a block apart, each developing loyal fan bases. Sally Consiglio died in 1989, leaving the restaurant with Flo, who had help from her sons, Richard and Robert, in operating the restaurant. After Flo’s death in 2012, the two sons and their sister Ruth took control of the restaurant. They soon began receiving offers from interested buyers.
Before the end of the December sale, the Consiglio siblings faced legal battles with another potential buyer for several years. At the time of the sale, the purchasers were not named, and just two months later, at the end of January, the restaurant closed for work.
Over the course of its 80-year history, Sally’s has used family recipes and baking techniques to create thin-crust pizza, frequently making several “Best Pizza in America” lists. For now, Lineage’s priority will be continuing the operation of the current outpost. The restaurant’s management and operations staff will remain indefinitely, Allen said, minimizing changes to the Sally’s experience for its legions of devotees. In the near future, Lineage will turn its eye towards expanding the reach of Sally’s iconic thin-crust pizza.
Allen declined to provide details on the expansion plans.
Sally’s rivals and cousins at Pepe’s embraced expansion earlier, beginning in the 1990s, when ownership passed to six of Frank Pepe’s grandchildren. Pepe’s currently has ten listed branches across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. According to the New York Times, Pepe’s placed an unsuccessful bid for Sally’s when the Consiglios initially considered selling the restaurant.
Asked if she would visit the location in Wooster Square, Elisabeth Siegel ’20 said that would depend on whether the new ownership was able to maintain the restaurant’s “hype.”
Lineage is registered in Connecticut and was incorporated on Dec. 1, 2017. The company does not appear to have any other holdings or properties at this time.
To celebrate the reopening of Sally’s Apizza under new ownership and its 80th anniversary, the restaurant will provide free pizza to the first 80 tables seated.
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