Villa Gargano Owner: ‘We’re Back’ – Iconic Albany Restaurant Open Again

- UPDATED

Villa Gargano is back

The pizza ovens are fired back up at Villa Gargano, and for a good reason: they are open again. The iconic Albany Italian restaurant is ramping up service for guests as they continue to reopen.

The scene on the last Friday night of July looked like this: customers standing sitting in the lobby, pizzas been pulled from the oven, cut, and put into boxes for carry out.

Thankfully, this isn’t temporary. Owner John Gargano confirmed with 229 Life that the restaurant is serving carry-out pizzas currently, and adding salads to the available menu starting Saturday July 29th. He said they aim to progress even further into the coming weeks and months.

“We’re back,” he said after describing their current progress. John did note their phones were not working at the time, and they were working on getting that fixed. With that in mind, he joked they could use the lower volume of customers to practice everything as the restaurant continues.

Villa Gargano owner John Gargano holds a pizza fresh from the oven.
Villa Gargano owner John Gargano holds a pizza fresh from the oven. Photo from 229 Life.

The restaurant has adopted a half-week schedule as they move forward, with plans to operate Wednesdays through Saturdays as they wish to expand availability later. The restaurant took orders until 8pm on Friday, July 28th.

Until the phone service is restored, anyone wishing to place an order will need to stop by the restaurant’s location at 1604 N Slappey Blvd. in Albany.

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From the waiting area the main dining room was all set with tables and chairs – just in the dark. Restaurant management did not say when they might be able to reopen the dining room.

But the kitchen remained somewhat busy with in-person orders coming and going for the night. Gargano was willing to give updated information in the moment while in the kitchen, but didn’t stop working while he shared details of the restaurant.

Villa Gargano memories

With the renewed excitement around Villa Gargano, we reached out to the community and asked if they had special memories from the iconic Italian restaurant. Here are some of the stories they shared.

The proposal story

In 1999, I think, my son enlisted John to help him propose to his girlfriend. He took the ring by the restaurant ahead of time, and left it up to John to come up with a plan. When the time came, John made sure they were seated at a table so that the girlfriend’s back was to a free standing screen. If you’re familiar with the Villa, you know the table. John climbed onto a step ladder and lowered the ring, on a string, feeding it off the end of something, maybe a yardstick. It worked — she said yes!

-Beverly

The recovery story

In January of 1993 my husband suffered a massive stroke. He was sent to Palmyra hospital for rehab. He was there for 3 months. This was one of the hardest times of our life. After several weeks of him diligently working to regain strength and to transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat he was given a pass so I could take him out to dinner. We went to Gargano’s. It was an extreme struggle but we made it inside. We dined on lasagna. It was wonderful. The first glimpse of real recovery for a very proud man. During his continued rehab we were able to return several times. The service and food were always excellent. In this dark and unsure time in our lives Gargano’s was a blessing that we enjoyed very much. He did survive the stroke and was left with the left side of his body paralyzed. His name was Wayne Jacobs. We lived in Omega. In 2007 he passed away with heart failure. Thank you for this very special memory. It made a difference in his recovery.

-Fran

Thanks to everyone who submitted their own stories!

So once again, Villa Gargano lives. 229 Life will be following their progress as it continues. Follow and subscribe for the latest updates.

Do you plan to get take out or visit Villa Gargano when the dining room opens? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Christian
Christian
Christian is the founder of 229 Life, a community hub for South Georgia. He likes exploring, eating new foods, and beach vacations. Say hello on Twitter at @tellmckinney.

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