Giovanni's Italian Cafe rises from the ashes in a new location

I skid my brakes to a halt whenever I see a new restaurant or restaurant sign (which likely explains why I get flipped the bird more often than just about anyone I know). But otherwise I'd miss things, like the huge "Open Soon" banner hanging from the former Oliveto Cucina Italian, a building at 3355 South Yarrow Street that will soon become Giovanni's Italian Cafe.

Carla Stevens and her Sicilian-born husband, Salvatore Giacalone, had opened a small cafe of the same name at 820 Simms Street in April 2008. And things were going just fine until July, when the joint was gutted by fire. "We worked so hard to put our heart and soul into that location, and after only four months, it was all swept away," Stevens says. "We waited patiently for the owner to fix the building, and to this day, he still hasn't done any repairs, so we had to terminate our lease and relocate."

She and Giacalone traipsed around the metro area and looked at twenty other buildings before eventually snatching up a space in the Mission Trace shopping center. "Something kept bringing us back to this location," explains Stevens. "We're very excited and happy to be here."

When Giovanni's opens, it'll be a combination Italian bakery, panani and pasta spot and pizzeria. "Sal is a baker by trade, so we'll have a wide variety of cookies and pastries in the display case. But we really want to keep it simple and affordable, so we're also going to have a daily $5.95 lunch special with two pieces of pizza and a drink," Stevens says."For the short period of time we were open, we were doing very well and attracting lots of Italian, New York and Chicago crowds. I have to believe that everything happens for a reason, and that when one door shuts another one opens."

If all goes well, that new door will open on June 1, the same day that Stevens' and Giocalone's son, Giovanni, for whom the restaurant is named, celebrates his eleventh birthday. For more info, call 303-238-4464.

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