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January 12, 2011 at 5:36 AM

Vince’s to close after five decades in Rainier Beach

When Vince Mottola Jr. told his mother he was planning to close the Rainier Beach restaurant named for his late father, Ada Mottola was not happy to hear the news. “She has all her memories of the restaurant business at this location,” said Vince Jr., who will shutter the Rainier Beach classic at the end of March.

“My parents started the restaurant in 1957 on Martin Luther King and Othello,” before relocating down the road to 8824 Renton Avenue South in 1963, recalls the co-owner of a family of Vince’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzerias.

Vince “Enzo” Mottola Sr. and his Neapolitan-style pizza, back in the day.

Today, Mottola Jr. and his business partners also own long-lived Vince’s locations in Renton (since 1973), Federal Way (1980) and Burien (1984), as well as the latest family member: Pizzeria Pulcinella, the bella bambina that made its splashy Rainier Beach debut in 2008.

Vince’s, a Seattle fixture since 1957, is set to close, but you can still get your pizza fix at its more contemporary Rainier Beach sibling, Pizzeria Pulcinella, pictured here. [Seattle Times/Mike Siegel]

Chalk the original’s closure up to the economy and his inability to renegotiate a viable lease, Mottola said. “Instead of just puttering along, I thought it would be better to leave on a high note,” explained the Rainier Beach High School grad, who took over the family business in 1983 and considers himself “lucky to be born into a restaurant family.”

Regulars can expect to see more of the restaurateur in the coming months when he’ll have a chance to reminisce and “share a story or two” at the restaurant he grew up in. There will be tales of wedding proposals made, birthdays and anniversaries celebrated and generations of families gathering at the resturant that shares his name to lift a glass of vino and a slice of Neapolitan pizza and shout “Salute!”

“Sometimes, we’re identified by a new generation of guests as ‘old-school.’ But places like Buca di Beppo copied and expanded on what we do here” — where Frank Sinatra is a patron saint and high cuisine is veal Parmigiana.

“It’ll be a hard couple of months,” insists Mottola, who’ll be keeping an eye out in the Rainier Valley in hope of relocating — and replicating — the longstanding success of his family’s flagship. “We’re the old Italian American-style restaurants, and I’m proud of what we do.”

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