HYDE PARK — Edwardo's Natural Pizza pulled the last pie out of the oven Sunday night before closing its doors for good in Hyde Park.
“It's kind of appropriate that the last pizza was the Edwardo's Special,” said Roman Sarias, the manager at the pizza place at 1321 E. 57th St.
Since 1980, the restaurant has served the house specialty, a thin-crust pizza with sausage, green peppers, mushrooms and onions, just blocks from the University of Chicago campus.
“You'd think that would be a model for success,” Sarias said of the combination of college kids and pizza.
He said sales declined sharply about a year-and-a-half ago and never recovered.
“I don't think it was the pizza, I had one the other day and I thought, ‘This pizza is still amazing,' ” Sarias said.
In late 2009, the University of Chicago opened a new dormitory for 1,100 students, who now had easy access to a dining hall.
Sarias said many of his diners over the last week were university alums, who were shocked to hear of the closure, which Sarias had kept quiet. He said he got a note today from a New Yorker he converted to a Chicago-cut pizza.
“I looked at those pizza squares as a New Yorker and I said, ‘What ... is this ...?' Pizza is cut in triangles,” Liz Beck wrote in a note to Salinas. “Then I took a bite, and I was hooked.”
Salinas said he was touched by the note from Beck, who came in every year on her birthday for 10 years.
He said the decision to close was made by the corporate office.
Edwardo's six locations are owned by Bravo Restaurants, which also owns The Original Gino's East and Ed Debevic's.
A representative from the company was not available to comment.
“The headquarters is doing its very best to make sure as few people as possible are unemployed,” Sarias said.
The departure leaves an vacant storefront in a prime location next to campus.
“The university is currently seeking a new tenant for the space that had been occupied by Edwardo's, which notified our commercial real estate team earlier this year of its plans to close,” said Calmetta Coleman, a spokeswoman for the university, which owns the building.
Sarias was taking a last look around the restaurant on Monday as crews packed up the kitchen and employees came in to get their last paychecks.
“It's been very sad,” he said.