Garavelli’s Cafeteria Restaurant, a fixture on the Chippewa Street alignment of Route 66 in south St. Louis, will shut its doors for good on June 28, according to an announcement on its Facebook page.
It is with deep sadness that we announce the closing of Garavelli’s Cafeteria. After many great years with all of you, we have made a decision to close our doors and do what we think best. We encourage you to come in and get one last delicious meal and say your goodbyes.
June 28th, 2013 will be our last day of operations. Thank you St. Louis for your wonderful support.
KSDK-TV in St. Louis reported that the restaurant’s owners for the past 23 years, Sam and Muna Hawatmeh, said rising costs prompted the closure.
“Rising food costs, rising electric bills, utilities, taxes,” said Sam Hawatmeh. The numbers don’t add up any more, so the owners are selling the building and closing the restaurant at the end of June.
“We’re going to miss it,” said Muna Hawatmeh. “Going to miss our lovely customers. It’s been a wonderful ride for us and good while it lasted. I’m sorry to see us go but we couldn’t do it no more.”
The site on Chippewa remained the only survivor of what once were six Garavelli’s restaurants.
From the well-researched “Route 66 St. Louis” book by Norma Maret Bolin:
Garavelli’s was a St. Louis institution started by Joe Garavelli who came to America from Italy in 1903 at the age of 19. He started his first restaurant in 1914 at the age of 30. His restaurant a De Baliviere and De Giverville in the Central West End became nationally known. The restaurant had humble beginnings but expanded and got more lavish as time went on. Joe added more locations as well. Joe was famous for his wonderful food including ham, spaghetti, roast beef (which he carved at a work station in the bar area), his “Joe says” slogans and his “Hello my friend” greeting, which he extended to all his customers.
Garavelli’s has been listed in multiple editions of the “Route 66 Dining and Lodging Guide,” published by the National Historic Route 66 Federation.