LISBON — It’s been almost six years since Graziano’s Casa Mia Restaurant closed, but a member of the family is bringing the heart of the business back to Lisbon.

Mary Graziano Richard officially opened Grazi to Go at the beginning of the year. Less than two blocks away from the corner where the restaurant once stood, now known as Graziano’s Square, Richard has a new kitchen. As the name implies, customers shouldn’t expect the traditional dining experience, but can now order from a menu of some of the restaurants favorites.

“My thoughts of doing it started over a year ago,” said Richard. “I was working over at Henry and Marty in Brunswick. I had friends that were asking me ‘hey can you make this or can you make that from the restaurant?’ A bunch of people said I should open up a restaurant. I didn’t want to open a restaurant.”

Richard, 50, began busing tables and doing dishes when she was 10 years old. Her father Joe Graziano Sr. started the business in 1969, and Richard’s parents and three siblings all worked in the restaurant at one point. She’s filled just about every role at the business and knew what would go into opening a restaurant. After years of working nights and weekends, she decided the lose business model of Grazi to Go was right for her.

“The restaurant closing was tough, but I don’t miss it. I miss the people,” said Richard. “I miss the people I worked with and I miss the excitement of a busy night. But, I don’t miss the nights and weekends and working 10 to 15 hour days.”

Grazi to Go is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. It’s best to call ahead, as same-day orders will depend on what she has in stock. The menu may develop more over time, but Richard is happy to be bringing the flavor of Graziano’s back to the community.

Lasagnas, chicken parm, meatballs, sauces and dressings are among the items starting the menu.

“Everything’s the same,” she said. “I’m doing the best I can to make sure it stays that way. There’s limited items on the menu right now but I’ll run specials and take requests.”

The return of the menu items has been well received so far. With the blessing of her, employers at Henry and Marty Richard and her brother did a Graziano’s pop-up a year ago. She said they had to do two in January and February because it was overbooked with customers longing for the food and dining experience.

At her new location, operating out of the old St Anne’s Church side entrance on Village Street, there may not be a dining experience but Richard realized how much the food was missed before she opened. The people who have supported her through this process, those she calls her “restaurant family,” ordered in force before her official opening.

“I was here the night before Christmas eve until 4:30 in the morning just to try to get everything done,” said Richard. “I went home and came back around 8, it was a lot of work. I had no idea what I was going to get.”

Richard enlisted the help of her husband and brother to get through that week, but plans to operate the day-to-day business on her own. It’s a change from the large restaurant her family operated for 43 years, but she’s happy to be back after they had to abruptly close in 2012.

“It was a very quick decision because that building was huge,” said Richard. “It was really five separate buildings. I said to my brother we can’t keep doing this. I said we need oil, we need payroll.”

“We did it without any fanfare and I know it wasn’t the best way to do it,” she added. “But, if we said we were closing ahead of time, we wouldn’t have enough product or anything to keep it going.”

The quick goodbye was difficult for Richard and her brother Joe Graziano Jr., but the cost of maintaining the large space ultimately led to the decision. She looks back fondly at the building that was razed a year after the restaurant closed. Richard had an upstairs apartment for 15 years.

Customers will still experience a little nostalgia when visiting Richard’s new space. The doors that separate the kitchen and pick-up window are from the restaurant’s “Main Event” room, along with the sign for the room. She also has the first picture she remembers as a child from the business.

The Grazi to Go logo has boxing gloves hanging from the letters, a theme of the old restaurant. Richard’s father passed away in 2000, but the theme is a nod to his uncle, a restaurateur and boxing trainer in upstate New York, who he learned the business from. The original doors are usually a good conversation starter for those with memories of Graziano’s. She’s had quite a few of those customers so far.

“I don’t know if I waited longer or done it sooner it would have made a difference,” said Richard. “It’s working for now. I’m going to just take it one day at a time.”

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