Customers devastated by the coming coming loss of Lucca Ravioli Co. — the 94-year-old business will shutter on April 20 — are buying every scrap of Lucca paraphernalia they can. The store’s hats and aprons are selling out, the Chronicle reports, and even the hand-painted paper signs that announce Lucca’s wares, like “Imported Italian Pasta $1.99 per pound” and “Fresh Pizza Dough,” are suddenly as popular as the pasta and dough themselves.
Lucca’s closure at 1100 Valencia Street (on the corner of 22nd) comes as the business and building owner, Michael Feno, sells the property, which his family’s business has occupied since 1925. Without a family heir to the business, Feno reportedly decided it was time to close up shop and sell the building to a developer.
That’s devastating to longtime customers, and Lucca has been doing notably brisk business in its final months, with die-hards stocking their freezers full of Lucca’s ravioli. They’re also buying non-edible aspects of the business. Manager Jim Langell has drawn the store’s signs for more than 40 years — these days, with help from his 14-year-old granddaughter. Before that, Michael Feno’s father did them. Langell says he usually just throws them away, but now that people will buy them, he’s happy to sell them to customers.
In fact, Lucca’s hand-painted signs are so popular as ephemera that they’ve inspired an artistic take-off from SF fashion boutique chain Modern Appealing Clothing (MAC). Artist Sam Tripodi and a group called the Fake Art Colony replicated Lucca’s signs in a display window at MAC. That display is up through March 25 — Lucca’s real signs will outlast the installation by about a month.