Old School Fixture Don Francesco’s Quietly Closes After Long Run On Burrard St.

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These images – showing a note on the locked front door at long-running Francesco’s Ristorante Italia (aka Don Franceso’s at 860 Burrard Street off Robson) – were sent over last night from reader J.C..

“Francesco’s is closed. Thank you for 54 wonderful years.”

Last week, a note on the restaurant’s Facebook page announced two final services, beginning as follows: “We are very sad and sorry to announce that our landlord at Don Francesco’s has forced us to close…”

Its founder, Francesco Alongi, was a Sicilian legend of the old school who had the protocols of European table service indelibly imprinted on his brain. He was also a hugely talented opera singer – a Tenore Robusto – and he would occasionally serenade his guests in the dining room (I’m proud to say he sang at my wedding). He died in 2015, two years after selling the restaurant.

I’m unsure what the “54 years” refers to in the notice. This iteration of Francesco’s was launched in 2002, making it all of 15 years old. Alongi owned a different restaurant on Richards Street from 1975 to 1990 (what eventually became Lucy Mae Brown), but if I’m not mistaken he worked for Umberto Menghi in the intervening years (and also took time off for health reasons). Perhaps someone can fill in the blanks for me?

In any event, 15 years might as well be 54 in restaurant years. It doesn’t really matter. Don Francesco, like the man himself, was an institution, attracting a ‘special occasion’ crowd and many a tourist sent by many a concierge. We hope the staff land on their feet, and wonder – hardly – at what chain abomination the landlords will court to replace it.

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There are 6 comments

  1. My understanding is Italian Kitchen is taking over this location as their lease is up on Alberni Street and has been leased to a jewelry store.

  2. Yep, It will be an Italian Kitchen.

    Francesco did work for many years at Il Giardino, managing the Yellow House. He was a true class act, treating ALL guests the same, very well. He was also a great man to work for. I had the pleasure of working with him for a couple years.

  3. I think the Italian kitchen is moving in there as far as I know!!! Closing their Alberni location and moving it there !

  4. My parents, my whole Italian family & I as a child dined there a lot. My parents taught me proper edicate at Francesco’s. I have always LOVED that restaurant so very much.
    I remember the beautiful fire pit with the soft cushion seats which on a cold night warmed us up along with the warm atmosphere.
    My husband & I had our wedding reception there in the Airport Room on May 21st 1988.
    The food was so delicious & the staff were always making us feel like family. I always looked forward to the next time to nine there.
    I just can’t believe that, that wonderful restaurant has closed.
    At least their is a Don Francesco’s coffee that is the best coffee I have ever tasted.
    Is their any chance or any way possible to have Francesco’s to reopen someday? Our whole family wants just a spark of hope.
    I kind of feel that we have been cursed or something, because our wedding reception was held there. We were looking forward to spend our 25th wedding anniversary there, but we couldn’t because Francesco’s had already closed down.
    If there is any news about Francesco’s reopening again or if their happens to be another restaurant almost as great as Francesco’s (which I doubt) please email me.
    Thank you!

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