|Shelley's Kitchen Continues Community Atmosphere on Elm Street|
|By Sabrina Damms, iBerkshires Staff|
05:09AM / Monday, March 13, 2023
|Shelley Strizzi has taken over the former Joanne's Luncheonette on Elm Street. She and her boyfriend David Amuso say the diner is a family affair. |
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Shelley Strizzi found her way back to the space that started her restaurant career but this time around, she owns it.
Joanne's had been part of the community for nearly a half century, developing a strong patronage and a connection with the community.
For Strizzi, the former diner became part of her journey helping her ignite her passion in the food industry.
She started working for Joanne at the age of 14, when she would walk to the establishment after school and spend her Saturdays washing dishes. She went on to work at a variety of restaurants including Cim's Tavern, Luau Hale, and The Soda Chief and jumped around positions, including waitressing and bartending, learning the industry.
"I've worked in the restaurant business for 40 years and I've always loved it … it's just fun. You know, it's family. My nanny always told me it's family, friends, good food and good times," Strizzi said.
The Pittsfield native wants to give back to the community that made her who she is today.
"This is where the dream started for her. She never really lost it. Just never thought she was able to come. Very rarely does somebody end up owning the place where they started," broker Steve Ray said.
"She was fortunate enough to go out and work for some of the best in the industry at what they do and take a page from each one. There's no doubt she'll do well."
Strizzi often told Amuso of her desire to own a restaurant of her own but never thought in "a million years" that dream would turn into reality.
The hometown eatery vibe that the community has come to love still runs deep in the foundation of the new Shelley's Kitchen. Although they have only been open three weeks, they already have regulars, Strizzisaid.
The restaurant is family run with some of the staff being Strizzi and Amuso's parents, kids, or grandchildren.
"We've got four generations on the weekends working here. That's pretty amazing," Amuso said.
Other staff and patrons have also become part of the Shelly's Kitchen family. Some of the patrons who choose to make the diner a regular part of their day have had their meals named after them.
Although Joanne Longton retired in January, she still comes into the diner and helps out whenever they need her, Strizzi said.
Strizzi is continuing with the same community that Longton cultivated, Ray said.
"It's more of a little community place here and that's what Joanne obviously had. She knew that Shelley would keep that going and that's why I think she was so happy to see that it was Shelley," he said.
The diner serves up eggs, pancakes, sandwiches, homemade pie, and other classic meals Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 6 to 2 and Saturday and Sunday from 6 to 12:30.