You might say that the restaurant business is in their blood. Perhaps success is a family trait, passed down through the generations by the grandfather who opened the Vineyard institution where they now spend all of their summer hours. Whatever the reason, as the Vineyard approaches an uncertain summer season, brothers Wilfred (Buster) Jr. and Richard (Richie) Giordano radiate carefree confidence that can come only from a combination of instinct and experience.
Richie, a year-round Island resident, spent the winter supervising renovations to Giordano’s, the Italian restaurant in Oak Bluffs that the brothers have co-owned for close to three decades. The restaurant reopened last weekend for its 79th summer with a more customer-friendly building to accommodate its exceedingly popular take-out service.
“It was a long time coming,” Richie said.
The restaurant was previously divided into three separate spaces; the take-out clam bar, the take-out pizza counter, and a sit-down family restaurant. Renovations were made to the take-out area, opening up the clam bar and pizza carry-out into a single spacious room.
“We just gutted everything out. Now, if you’re waiting for a pizza and you happen to smell some seafood frying, you can come right over [to the clam bar],” said Buster. Customers who prefer to order a quick slice can step up to one of two sidewalk take-out windows. And they won’t have to worry about excessive wait times. The brothers installed an extra pizza oven to ensure that they can meet customer demand.
“People are absolutely thrilled [about the renovations],” said Leanne Giordano, Richie’s daughter and restaurant manager. “People are expecting not to have to wait for slices. They’re expecting to be able to get slices all the time. They’re expecting not to have to wait over 15 minutes for a pizza. They’re expecting it to taste the same, and all of that so far we’ve been able to nail on the head. It’s so much more functional for us,” she added.
“We just tried to make it a little more efficient, a little more convenient for the customers,” said Buster.
The Giordanos are aware that difficult times may lie ahead for many Island businesses, but they remain optimistic that their customers will keep coming back.
“We’re in a good situation because we buy well, and we’re established. The economy is tough. But if you can have the value, I think you will be successful. You can come to Gio’s and have a dinner or have a pizza and not spend more than $17. You can’t cook at home for that cheap,” said Buster.