Emily's has sold after months on the market
By Cirien Saadeh Staff Reporter
After months of waiting and wondering, Emily's F&M Cafe has been sold and it's staying in the family.
The Northside cafe, formerly owned by Emily and Elliot Benincasa, is now owned by Emily's niece, Anna Donato-Ghani and her husband Gabby Ghani. Donato-Ghani and her husband purchased the building and the business a few weeks ago and have taken over managing the restaurant, much to the delight of many Northsiders, who worried that they would lose the diner which has a decades-long history in the neighborhood.
Donato-Ghani got her start in the hospitality business 38 years ago as a high schooler working at Emily’s, but she never intended to own the diner.
"We did not originally want to purchase the diner. My husband has been asking me for two years, saying we should buy it and use it as a kitchen for a catering company," said Donato-Ghani. "But I knew we could not just close down the restaurant; it's too important to the community."
Donato-Ghani and her husband plan to run the existing cafe and their catering company Pickle's Catering inside the Emily's building.
"We want the community to turn out and support Emily's. We're going to try some new things, like some healthier options, and review the menu for things that don't sell well. In a year we'll know if the restaurant was worth the risk," said Donato-Ghani.
The news that Emily's had been sold and is staying in the family was met with much community excitement. Community members members expressed congratulations and an intent to visit soon.
“Congratulations on your retirement and congratulations that Emily’s will remain open. Hello Anna,’ read one Facebook comment. “I will miss Emily and Elliot Sr. This is my go to place when I need to recharge. So glad it’s in good hands,” read another.
According to Donato-Ghani, Emily's patrons members can expect some changes at the cafe, but much will stay the same. The new owners purchased Emily's famous pancake recipe when they purchase the cafe, and they'll keep the spaghetti and meatballs on the menu.
In June, the Benincasas announced that they were aiming to retire in June and had put the cafe on the market. A local nonprofit, the Stories Foundation expressed an interest in the building and signed a purchase agreement in October. That deal fell through when the nonprofit couldn’t raise the money needed to make the purchase.