Maria’s Pizza on Milwaukee’s southwest side closes June 26

Bonnie Crivello speaks with a customer Sunday at Maria's Pizza, 5025 W. Forest Home Ave. The founding family was closing the restaurant Sunday but in talks with a potential buyer to continue the operation.

The founding family of Maria’s Pizza, one of Milwaukee’s oldest continually operating pizzerias, marked its last day at the restaurant June 26 amid a line of customers and the phone ringing off the hook with orders.

But the owner indicated the closing might be temporary, as the family is in talks with a buyer.

“It’s time for us to take a breath,” Bonnie Crivello said by phone. She owns it with her niece Maria Story.

“We have a lot of nice customers. We love them and everything else, but right now we want to rest,” she said, as phones rang nonstop in the background.

The restaurant’s dining room has been closed for the entirety of the pandemic; Maria’s has been open for takeout only, at reduced hours. As at many other businesses in the pandemic, finding workers has been a challenge, according to Crivello.

“It’s hard getting people to work for you,” she said. “It’s too much.”

Customers wait in line Sunday, hoping to score a Maria's pizza before the founding family closed the southwest side restaurant.  A new buyer might take over the business, the daughter of the founder said.

Crivello indicated a potential buyer for the restaurant and its recipes is in the wings, so Maria’s might be closed only temporarily.

“We want somebody who knows how to do it,” she said.

Crivello is the daughter of founder Maria Traxel, who opened the restaurant in 1957 on Seventh Street near Greenfield Avenue. Story was born the same year the restaurant opened; her mother, Mickey Story, operated the restaurant with Crivello until Mickey Story’s passing from her in 2006.

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