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A legend ends: Chianti set to close after 24 years
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Chianti Italian Restaurant owner Domenico Pelliccia (right) plans to close his restaurant Dec. 31 after 24 years in Conyers. Brothers Ozan (far left) and Erman Gunindi have worked at Chianti for five years. - photo by Kathy Hooks

The end of 2012 will mark the end of a local dining legend when Chianti Italian Restaurant closes its doors after 24 years in Conyers.

Chianti has been a place where family traditions are celebrated yearly and in its prime, served around 700 dinners each week. But over the last five years, owner Domenico Pelliccia said that number has dwindled to more like 350 dinners each week. He has decided to keep the restaurant open through December for his employees, who will serve the final meal on Dec. 31. 

“The last three years have been very challenging,” Pelliccia said this week. “I have good customers, but it is not enough. I understand the economic situation. I am sorry for the community and my employees, but I cannot keep it open anymore.”

Pelliccia moved to Georgia from Italy 34 years ago and operated three Italian restaurants in the Atlanta area before moving to Conyers and opening Chianti in 1989. He said increases in food costs, taxes and rent have led to his decision to leave the restaurant business. 

“All four of my kids worked here and I want to thank everybody for 24 years of business — it gave the me opportunity to raise my family,” Pelliccia said. “I wish I could keep it open but I can’t. Conyers has changed. Big corporations are moving in and they give food away practically for free. There is no way we can operate and compete with them. This is the last generation of this kind of restaurant.”

Trained as a chef if Italy, Pelliccia has made his own pasta, bread and desserts “the old fashioned way.” The 102-seat restaurant has seen hundreds of wedding receptions and celebrations, and many local families had a tradition of returning each year for celebrations. 

“For few months, I want to try to get rid of the stress, and then I will see what will be next for me,” Pelliccia said. “In the beginning, I had my kids with me and it was a fun operation. Now it is too stressful. I do want to thank everybody for giving me 24 years.”