Ciao Gelato saying ‘arrivederci’ Wednesday
Steamboat Springs — Lynne Romeo hopes it’s arrivederci.
Of the three ways Italians say goodbye, arrivederci is the least permanent version.
It’s “till we meet again,” not “goodbye forever.”
Romeo is hopeful when her business Ciao Gelato closes its doors Wednesday amid a search for a new location, it won’t be gone forever.
“We’ve had a wonderful ride,” Romeo said Monday as she reflected on the nearly five years the popular gelato spot has been open in Steamboat Springs. “When I was a kid, I always knew I would have a lot of adventures, and this has been a great adventure.”
As Romeo shared some of her favorite stories of running the business, frequent customer and friend Hannah Zwak walked up to give Romeo a hug.
“I’ll be back tomorrow, and Wednesday,” Zwak said.
This was after 7-year-old Liam Jernegan approached Romeo and asked her for a business card so they could stay in touch after the store closes.
“I’m going to need it before you close,” Liam said in a serious tone.
Meanwhile, a local high school student has been posting on Facebook trying to find ways to keep the business going beyond this week.
These are the signs the gelato spot has become more than a gelato spot.
These are the signs it will be hard to say goodbye.
Romeo isn’t sulking though.
She’s too busy focusing on all the good times at the store as closing day approaches.
Romeo and her husband, Massimo, always have viewed their business as an extension of their living room.
Lynne Romeo can list several local children who have “grown up” in the store. Her own sons, Mirko and Gabri, have spent a lot of time behind the counter.
In the store’s final days, Romeo also likes to reflect on the magic of gelato.
When someone comes in and seems tense, a bite of the Italian ice cream makes the tension melt away through their toes, Romeo said.
“We’ve made a lot of friends here,” she added.
The lease for the business expires at the end of the month. The owners are working to see if they can find a smaller location with a rent they can afford.
The space is too big for a mom-and-pop operation like Ciao Gelato, Romeo said.
When the store opened in November 2009 on Yampa Street, Ciao Gelato was an important part of the street’s renaissance.
Some planners from the Urban Land Institute gushed about it when they came to visit to study the street and its future.
Ciao Gelato would be followed by several new restaurants and plenty of energy.
It recently moved from Yampa to its current location on Seventh Street not far away.
Romeo likes to call her business a sort of “little fish,” but one with a lot of quirkiness and a big family atmosphere.
Whether it’s temporary or whether it’s permanent, the store won’t close its doors before hosting a celebration Wednesday. From 5 to 7 p.m., community members can come by to celebrate the business and enjoy free gelato and pizza.
The store will collect donations for Routt County United Way’s holiday gift exchange program.
Romeo is hopeful a big closing celebration can help make Christmas more memorable for a lot of local children.
“We could quietly shut our doors, or we could go out with a bang,” Romeo said. “I prefer to go out with a bang.”
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