COLUMBIA — After 17 years in business, Trattoria Strada Nova has closed its doors.
For owner Rocky Galloway, the restaurant at 21 N. Ninth St. was more than just a business.
“It was everything for me, it was my life, my identity, it was a child to me,” he said. “I hate to see it turn this way.”
Galloway said business had slowed at Trattoria during the past couple of years, creating financial problems. He said the restaurant had fallen behind in paying sales taxes.
“If you don’t have money to pay everybody then you have to make decisions on who to pay, and that’s what I ran into,” Galloway said.
About two months ago, Cheryl and Rocky Galloway had to make a decision whether to renew the restaurant’s liquor license and risk further debt or to cut their losses and get out. The couple decided it would be best to walk away.
The couple will continue to run their brunch spot across the street, Cucina Sorella.
Blue Note owner Richard King has been a regular at Trattoria since it opened — he even held his wedding reception there.
“That restaurant opened almost in the same month that I opened the Blue Note,” said King, whose music club is located next door.
Over the years, King recalls musicians of all kinds enjoying the Italian cuisine before and after performances. “Bands who are coming to town now say to me ‘Where are they? What happened?’”
Trattoria was a hot spot for out-of-towners and locals celebrating everything from holidays to anniversaries.
Even big name celebrities made a point to stop by when coming through town. Galloway laughed as he recalled Danny Glover’s trip to Trattoria during his visit to MU.
“He had seven orders of calamari,” Galloway said. “I have never seen anybody order so much calamari in my life.”
Other famed faces that have appeared in Trattoria include Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chuck Berry and Blondie’s Debra Harry.
Lisa Kuttenkuler worked at Trattoria for ten months and was laid off when it closed. She now works at Chris McD’s on Forum Boulevard.
Her experience at Trattoria helped her get the job, she said.
“I applied to so many places downtown and around Columbia and the second they saw that I had worked at Trattoria they just knew right away that I had the experience that they were looking for,” she said.
Self-proclaimed townie Lisbeth Yasuda will miss the high-end eatery.
“They had a very diverse menu, not just your stereotypical idea of what an Italian restaurant should be,” she said.
The restaurant featured Northern Italian cuisine and included an ever-changing menu with items such as American sturgeon caviar and seared duck breast.
But the menu might have been a detriment to Trattoria in its final stages.
“We printed a new menu every day depending on what was fresh,” said Galloway, recognizing the modern comforts found in the consistency of fast-food chains. “We refused to compromise or to change our integrity, and I think that’s what hurt us.”
Trattoria continued selling local products, but in the end the restaurant was putting out more than it was taking in.
Galloway believes business was also hurt by popular in-house, chef-style kitchens.
Galloway said he doesn’t plan to open another restaurant any time soon. He’s also not sure what the plans are for the building.
The owner of the building, Tom Rippeto, could not be reached for comment.