Milillo’s Pizza in Hamilton shuts down earlier than expected

Milillo’s Pizza has officially closed.

The business’ announcement of the official closure comes a week after the historically popular Hamilton restaurant’s owner announced it would happen.

“We would like to thank our customers for showing your support, and our employees for going the extra mile,” reads a post on Milillo’s Pizza’s Facebook page.

Owner Ronald Stout told the Journal-News the business had struggled financially in recent years, and it hasn’t been able to weather that trouble. The family pizza restaurant was negatively impacted by a number of issues, he said, including the nearly 18-month-long road construction project at Main Street and McKinley and Haldimand avenues, as well as an inability to land a PPP loan through the Small Business Administration.

Other reasons include the ever-increasing cost of goods and services and the COVID-19 pandemic. Added together, he said he “has not been able to recover.”

“We’ve worked with everybody, we’ve been active in the community for years,” Stout told the Journal-News. “Our customers have been obviously dear to us, and I didn’t want to do any of this because of the fact we’ve had so many loyal customers through the years ― and I’m now waiting on their grandkids. It just breaks my heart that it has to come to this. In light of someone coming forward coming to buy it, even as a turnkey operation, it’s not going to go anywhere, other than closing.”

It had been difficult to maintain the bills due to the culmination of everything that’s negatively impacted his business’s bottom line, Stout said. The road construction was likely the largest reason his business struggled, saying the limited lane access “made it next to impossible” to access the take-out-only pizza restaurant.

City officials said the 18-month-long intersection construction at Main Street and McKinley and Haldimand avenues, which also impacted Cereal and Western avenues, was one of four problematic intersections that were improved in recent years along the High/Main corridor. High Street and Ohio 4, High Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard and Main Street at Millville and Eaton avenues were also improved.

But city officials told the Journal-News late last week any customer had unrestricted access to the businesses along that construction stretch.

“I’m past the withstanding (the financial hardship) part,” Stout told the Journal-News last week, adding a closing date had depended on how long it took to wind down the business. “I have to make sure everything’s done properly because I’m a small S-Corp. and I want to file with the Secretary of State to dissolve the corporation and make sure we’ve got everything paid.”

Milillo’s Pizza opened in 1968, shortly after the family closed its commercial bakery on Heaton Street, which operated from 1912 until about 1967, Stout said.

Hamilton Director of Neighborhoods Brandon Saurber said, “Milillio’s is a Hamilton icon.”

“It is one of less than a handful of names that is synonymous with the taste of Hamilton,” he said “I don’t think it’s too strong of a word to say that we will mourn the loss of this business as a community.”

The family-run restaurant has been open since 1968, and the news is sad for the patrons of the take-out pizza restaurant, which has served generations of Hamiltonians.