The online real estate listing was specific and direct: “Feel free to stop by the location as a customer first. This is a highly confidentially listing, please DO NOT talk to any of the employees or patrons.”
Journalist Dan McQuade picked it up on Twitter, noting it with amusement because the location was specified: It’s the Santucci’s Original Square Pizza shop at Broad and Wallace Streets, which opened about three years ago as the West Poplar neighborhood began to burst with new development.
Is this a case of something we’ve seen this dozens of times before: An early speculator buys in, struggles, and wants to get out?
Absolutely not, says Alicia Santucci Barabuscio, who co-owns the locations of Santucci’s Original Square Pizza in South Philadelphia, Roxborough, and at the Jersey Shore in Ventnor and Ocean City. Business there has been booming. “I’m running out for [more] bibb lettuce for a catering order," Barabuscio said from the road Thursday.
Though she said the ad, listing the business for $1.5 million, could be unintentionally alarming, the offering was part of the company’s strategy: Create a business, grow the business, and sell the business to a franchisee. City records show that she and her husband, Blake, bought the building in late 2015 for $1.9 million.
Upstairs from the pizzeria, which has a bar, are apartments. It will be business as usual until a buyer is found. If a buyer doesn’t necessarily want Broad and Wallace, she said, they might consider offering him or her a different location. The Barabuscios will keep the bricks.
This stretch of North Broad, in fact, is on the rise. Chefs Joe and Angela Cicala will be opening their posh Italian restaurant at the Divine Lorraine this fall, as will chef Natalie Maronski.
A quick guide to the Santucci’s pizza family tree. In 1959, Joseph Santucci began making square pizzas (with sauce on top of cheese) in a kitchen connected to the home that he and his wife, Philomena, shared on O Street in Juniata Park. Space was at a premium, as the Santuccis had seven children. He moved the pizza business next door., where it operated for decades.
Santucci children are behind three branches:
Son Frank Santucci, whose Santucci’s Original Square Pizza shops are run by daughter Alicia Santucci and her husband, Blake Barabuscio and Frank’s sons Frank Jr. and Anthony.
Son Joe Santucci Jr., with wife Nadine and children Joseph III and Natalie Philomena. owns Joe Santucci’s Original Square Pizza Bar & Grill on Woodhaven Road in Northeast Philadelphia.
Daughter Teresa, with husband Gene Carelli and son Nicholas, owns Philomena Santucci Square Pizza locations in Mayfair and Warminster, and sell sauce in jars.