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Londonderry's popular Cafe Teresa suddenly closes, shocking employees and customers

Union Leader Correspondent

April 20. 2018 1:25PM

Cafe Teresa, shown in this screen shot taken from Google, has closed. (Google)

LONDONDERRY — Although some people thought it was an April Fool’s joke, a popular local restaurant has abruptly shut its doors for good, shocking its employees and customers.

Cafe Teresa, a Mexican and Italian restaurant at 103 Nashua Road, posted a sign on its door stating, “We would like to thank everyone for an amazing 25 years,” with a notice that the restaurant was closed effective April 1.

Employees say that without any warning, they were notified via text on Easter night that they would not need to return to work.

Judy and Michael Riccio owned and operated Cafe Teresa. A phone call to Judy Riccio seeking comment about the closure was not returned on Thursday.

Town assessment records indicate that Michael Riccio owns the building at 103 Nashua Road, although employees say the property is being sold to Domino’s Pizza.

“We had known that they were putting the building up for sale, but then they took it off the market in November because they were not getting the offers they had hoped. We thought it would be OK,” said a former employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

According to her, the workers were sent a text message on the night of April 1 informing them that the restaurant was now closed.

“It is disappointing — that is probably the only word I could use to describe it. It left everyone in really tough financial situations,” said the former worker.

The staff gathered on Monday at a different location, cried together and talked about their futures, she said.

“There was a lot of anger, a lot of sadness and a lot of tears,” she explained. “Our regulars became family as well, and they were almost just as heartbroken as we were.”

Jason Shell, the former kitchen manager at Cafe Teresa, said he and his coworkers were shocked about the closing.

“I was in negotiations to buy the building,” said Shell, who had hoped to eventually take over the cafe. “The closing came as a total surprise.”

Shell said he was offered a different job with a different business last fall, but turned it down because of an informal agreement he had with the owners of Cafe Teresa, and his intention of buying the property.

Shell said he understands that financial decisions are challenging, but said the situation could have been handled differently and the owners could have been more sensitive when telling employees about the closure.

“In the blink of an eye I lost my job,” said Shell, who has since found employment elsewhere.

Customers took their concerns to Facebook this week, disappointed that the restaurant has closed and upset that about 20 employees are now searching for new jobs.

“I am so sad to hear this news. It has been my favorite restaurant forever,” posted Tina Burke. “The food was great and service was always superior.”

Others, including Donna Anderson, said they enjoyed their regular nights with the Cafe Teresa family.

“We send you all with hugs and the deepest gratitude for taking such good care of us through the years. You were so much more than a waitstaff to us,” wrote Anderson.

“This is very sad news. I’ve been going there almost since they opened their doors,” said Rich Bono.

The building at 103 Nashua Road was built in 1974 and is currently assessed at nearly $580,000, according to town assessment records. Cafe Teresa’s website and Facebook page has already been taken down.

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