Today, members of the Azzolino family—owners of The Sausage Factory since 1979—announced that they've decided to take the building off the market and keep the classic Italian eatery in operation.
Last May, a trio of tipsters alerted us that the building at 517 Castro St. was for sale. A Redfin listing for $4.1 million advertised that the property—which includes a 3-bedroom second-floor unit and a 4-bedroom third-floor flat— would be delivered to the new owner with a vacant restaurant on the ground floor.
Before it opened as a restaurant in 1968, the building was an actual sausage factory until the 1940s. Remnants of the old facility, including original meat racks and black iron doors that previously enclosed sausage-smoking rooms, are still visible today.
Tony Azzolino, who hails from Calabria, Italy, started as a prep cook before acquiring the restaurant in 1979. After members of the community showed support for keeping the spot in business, Mario Azzolino, Tony’s nephew, offered to step up and keep the local landmark open.
Mario has more than a decade of restaurant industry and long wanted to open his own place, but the number of longtime restaurants that have recently shuttered in San Francisco kept him from pursuing his dream.
“When the announcement was made that we were closing,” Mario said, citing Hoodline’s previous coverage, “we had a lot of people coming by to pay their final respects. I saw it as an opportunity to keep something around that has its place in the neighborhood.”
Although Mario intends to maintain the restaurant’s classic ambiance, cuisine and staff, The Sausage Factory will close in late February for a brief refresh; however, it’ll reopen in early March with some slight updates to its operations.
“It was either this or the place shutting down,” laughed Mario, “so I hope [neighbors] respond well to the news.”
Not much has changed since the restaurant opened 50 years ago, “so we’ll mainly be refreshing the place and going through a lot of the historic photos on the walls, adding a computer system and cleaning and organizing,” he added.
He's also planning to inject some fresh influences, like his mother’s sauce recipes.
“We'd like to spend more time on the classics,” Mario said. “The dishes that people usually order here.”
Mario said he hopes people celebrate the good news by stopping in for a meal.
“We want to re-incorporate ourselves back into the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re trying to go for another 50 years.”
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