‘Bring Back Angelo’s’ page proves dream is not dead

1891510_10153862285925082_435862122_oThe dream of reopening Angelo’s is no closer to reality than it has been since the beloved restaurant closed in 2006. But that isn’t stopping a growing group of its still-dedicated fans from dreaming — and campaigning.

A Facebook group called Bring Back Angelo’s to Wichita,” started in March by Alan Martin, a dedicated Wichita native, has 128 members and counting. (To sign up, search Facebook for “Bring Back Angelo’s to Wichita” and click “join” at the top of the page.)

Martin, who now lives in Olathe, said that every family birthday and special event was celebrated at Angelo’s when he grew up. He even worked at the Angelo’s that operated at Central and Tyler when he was in high school and college. Martin said he started the page hoping to build interest and inspire potential investors to step forward.

On the page, former owner Jack Fasciano, whose parents, Angelo and Anna, opened the original Angelo’s in the 1950s, often shares memories of the restaurant. More important, he offers members of the group access to a little project he’s been working on for the past few years: selling take-and-bake versions of Angelo’s famous pizzas, manicotti, sausage and meatballs, plus the pickled eggplant that made the salad bar sing, out of his house.

Back in 2012, Jack and his daughter, Gina Fasciano Hogan, started talking about reopening the restaurant. They even tentatively made plans to move into the space at Douglas and Oliver that eventually was taken by The Hill Bar & Grill. The plan didn’t work out, but it didn’t die completely. Fasciano says that it could still happen if the family can find an investor with a lot of “monergy” — that’s money and energy.

Angelo’s, which was known for its pizza, lasagna and manicotti, was long one of Wichita’s favorite restaurants and had several locations over the years. When the last one at 1930 S. Oliver closed in July 2006, it ended a 46-year-run for the restaurant.

Recently, Jack Fasciano authored a post in the Facebook group about the restaurant’s famous matchbooks, bearing the colors of the Italian flag. (I’m pretty sure I still have several of these hanging around my house.) I enjoyed reading it and thought you would, too.

Here’s Jack’s post:

“THE MATCHBOOK – At some point in time, our colorful, double-wide matchbook became a collectible. We would get letterswith self addressed and stamped envelopes requesting our matchbook covers. We were instructed to throw the actual matches away and just send the covers.

Jack Fasciano with one of his homemade take-and-bake Angelo's pizzas.

Jack Fasciano with one of his homemade take-and-bake Angelo’s pizzas.

At first I was flattered and tried to comply, but after a while, I got bored with the whole deal. It wasn’t my hobby. Besides I had thousands of them in the stock room. The matches were the only thing I didn’t mind my employees pilfering. I knew that wherever they wound up , they were still advertising . Our iconic matches even made their movie debut in Crispin Glover’s 1989 movie ” Twister.” It was a weird comedy about a Kansas family and a tornado, typical Crispin Glover black comedy. I haven’t seen the movie in 20 years, but what I remember was in the last scene, Glover throws gasoline into a backyard tool shed. Now here’s the good part — then he reaches in his pocket and pulls out a book of Angelo’s colorful, double-wide, very combustible matches (close-up on the matches) and lights a rag on fire and throws it in the shed, which exploded into flames.

It’s a sad story, but one that needed telling. Glover survived the fire, but the matches were burn beyond recognition. My sister lived and worked in New York for a time. One day she walked into an office building in Manhattan and notice the smoke shop had a large brandy snifter full of familiar looking matches. On closer inspection, she realized they were our colorful, double-wides, only they had been cut in half. Often printers will print more than they need for a customer and then sell the matches wholesale to large match users.

So there it is — a little back story about our matches, from Wichita to Hollywood to The Big Apple!”