SOUTH PORTLAND – There’s a little rust on the white aluminum where the red letters spelling “Pizza by Angelone” used to greet loyal customers.

It’s painful enough that the building is about to be torn down, said Carla Mains. She wants to know who took her family’s sign.

“I want it back,” said the 23-year-old granddaughter of the legendary restaurateur, John “Jack” Angelone.

“That sign is going up when I find the right spot for the new restaurant,” Mains said. “It’ll have the same name and the same food. There’s no need to change a good thing.”

Neither Mains nor her mother, Trina Angelone Mains, plan on being around when the bulldozers show up here at the corner of Broadway and Ocean Street.

The metal-wrapped building with distinct rounded corners, built as a gas station in 1940, will be demolished to make way for a new branch of the Bath Savings Institution. The gas station was converted into a pizza shop by Jack Angelone in 1969, as he expanded his pizza franchise from his home restaurant at Monument Square.

“It’s too hard to even drive by,” said Angelone Mains, 57, who ran the South Portland shop from 1986 until last year.

After working 12-hour days year after year with no vacations, Angelone Mains said she made the difficult decision to sell the property, over the protests of her youngest daughter. Bath Savings bought the parcel, at one of the city’s busiest intersections, for $450,000.

Construction on the bank branch will begin after the demolition, and the company is shooting for a December opening.

“Of course there are a lot of memories,” Angelone Mains said. “I think a lot about my dad and our family. It’s tough to see it go, but we have to move on.”

Carla Mains said she ran the South Portland shop for much of 2010, and she pleaded with her mother to keep the property.

“It’s my childhood,” she said, recalling when she would fold pizza boxes for quarters that she would put in the gumball machine.

“In the end, it was her decision, but it still hurts,” Mains said. “It broke my heart.”

But Mains is determined to lease a storefront in South Portland and to reopen under the Angelone name.

The family has the original 1969 pizza oven and other equipment in storage. Mains had hoped to lease a space at Mill Creek Plaza, within a block of the property her mother sold in November. But the plaza, which includes 22 businesses, only allows one pizza shop. Papa John’s has a no-competition clause in its lease.

“It’s hard to find the right space for what we do. You have to have good ventilation for the oven,” Angelone Mains said.

The Angelone family is credited with bringing the modern pizzeria to Maine. Jack Angelone opened his first restaurant on Veranda Street in Portland in 1947, where he entertained crowds by playing the piano.

Angelone was joined in the venture by his brother Joe and his wife Patricia. Pizza was not then a staple in the American diet. A 1953 news clipping that hung on a wall at the South Portland shop included a pronunciation of the word, “peet-za.” The food grew in popularity in the years after World War II, and in the late 1950s the Angelones moved their restaurant to Portland’s Monument Square. Angelone family members have since opened several restaurants in Maine under various names.

In the late 1960s, Jack Angelone bought three gas stations in South Portland, Westbrook and on Washington Avenue in Portland. The box-like design and good ventilation made them perfect for his pizza ovens.

Two of Angelone Mains’ sisters own and operate the two remaining Pizza by Angelone shops, on Main Street in Westbrook and on Washington Avenue in Portland.

Mains has been helping Laura Angelone at the Portland location, and she hopes to collaborate with her on the sauce recipe.

Angelone Mains said the best part about running the South Portland shop was the customers who became extended family members. But the business was always hard to run.

“I had my first vacation in 25 years, unless you want to count giving birth to a child by cesarean section and taking two measly weeks off,” she said.

“I’m no spring chicken anymore, and those days of standing on my feet for 12 hours a day, they are long gone.”

 

Staff writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

[email protected] tions, for $450,000.