After over 30 years of serving Poulsbo, longtime staple That’s-A-Some Italian Ristorante will be closing its doors this month as the owners are ready to retire.
“I’m almost 66, and I’ve been owning my own restaurant for over 30 years,” co-owner Tom Pelland said. “I love the business, I love the people. It was just time for me to kind of be able to do some things. The restaurant doesn’t really allow that. For a successful operation, you kind of got to be there.”
Pelland has sold the restaurant to Sandy Kolbeins, who owns The Loft in downtown Poulsbo, who plans to open his own remodeled Italian restaurant. Pelland said the new owner is going to move the layout around, incorporate a new paint scheme and add a small bar.
“He has all my recipes and will use what he wants,” Pelland said of the new menu. “He will have some new stuff as well.”
Tom and his wife, Marie, first opened That’s-A-Some-Italian on Bainbridge Island in 1985 with another married couple, Lee and Marti Grant, but ended up selling that location in 1994. They brought the restaurant to Poulsbo in April of 1990 where it has been ever since.
“You always hope that a business goes well for you and that you can maintain it for that long,” Pelland said. “It was a lot of work, it was a long haul…You have to run a fair and decent operation that gives value to the people. Then you have to build relationships because you can’t count on tourism. If you’re just counting on tourists you might as well shut down for the winter.”
Pelland noted some of the fan-favorite dishes throughout the years, including Sicilian spaghetti (hot sausage, ground beef, marinara sauce), a cannelloni recipe he got from an Italian chef, eggplant parmesan, and the Anaheim chili penne (spicy cumin and cream cheese with sausage).
“It really didn’t change a lot,” Pelland said. “We changed the menu four or five times. This didn’t need that much re-creating. People really like our marinara sauce; that’s our mother sauce.”
Aside from serving food, the restaurant also held community events such as wine dinners, fundraisers, receptions and rehearsal dinners. Pelland said it became a place people began to seek out.
“All Rotarians would come through; real estate agents would be in there regularly having lunch with clients or fellow agents,” he said. “Other bar owners and restaurant owners would come in and eat frequently. When you have a restaurant like that you end up knowing almost anybody in the community.”
Over the years, the restaurant has had a few celebrities stop by, such as actor Roy Scheider (Jaws) and lawyer John F. Kennedy Jr before his death in 1999. Marie Pelland waited on both of them.
“They rented a sailboat, walked up, came in, and had a nice dinner and a bottle of wine,” he said of JFK Jr. “When he went down in his crash my wife wouldn’t let anybody sit at that table until his body was found.”
To this day, the restaurant displays a picture of him and the receipt, which Pelland said would still be shown in the new restaurant. “People come in all the time to look at it,” he said. “She’s been offered many times for it but it’s just too big of a treasure for her.”