There are only so many hours in the day, and restaurateur Victor Almo -- owner of the four-year-old Art of Pizza in the Crossroads and the nine-month-old restaurant of the same name in Westport -- has simply used up too many of them. Last week, Almo put up a "closed" sign in the window of the Westport location and locked the door.
"I just don't have the stamina or the desire to work that hard anymore," Almo says. "Even before I opened the Westport location, I was working 85 hours a week in the Crossroads. And then, suddenly, I'm working over 100 hours a week. I'm over 50 years old -- I'm no spring chicken anymore."
Although the Art of Pizza had finally started making money in the last two months, Almo says the physical toll of running two restaurants had become too draining. "I had been taking money from the Crossroads restaurant to keep the Westport location going," Almo says, "and I had put so much of my time and energy into just getting the place open. I did all the electric work, all the plumbing and built the bar myself. It took longer than I expected to get the liquor license. But I had employees leaving -- they didn't have the same passion for the business that I did. It was taking a toll on my health."
"They served great pizza," says one of the bartenders at the Westport Cafe & Bar next door, "but it never seemed that busy."
Westport already has several established pizza joints: Joe's Pizza Buy the Slice, Torre's Pizza, Imo's Pizza, and Papa John's. The competition was daunting even before Almo opened his second Art of Pizza location in the former Papa Keno's space.
Right now, Almo is completely focused on his Crossroads location. He's in the process of redesigning his patio. He says it'll become a much more "atmospheric," gardenlike spot when he opens it next week.