Meet Joe Antuzzi, Owner of Il Postale Italian-American Bistro in Sunnyvale
SVT: How long have you owned Il Postale?
JA: I built Il Postale in August, 1995. This year will be our 19th year.
SVT: Where did you grow up, where did you go to school and what did you study?
JA: I am local. I was born in San Jose and went to Del Mar High School. I then went to San Jose State where I majored in Business.
After college, I wanted to be a teacher. But first, I took a couple of years off to travel through Europe. It was 1974-1975. Traveling was one of my greatest life experiences.
SVT: How did it work out for you?
JA: I was truly fortunate. I ended up working in an English-speaking Restaurant and Bar in Torremolinos, Spain, located on the Spanish Costa del Sol (which was much like the French Riviera). It was beautiful. For six months, I bartended and cooked. I had bartended before back home in college. I had also worked my way through college working in the old canneries. Remember the canneries?
SVT: What was this experience you had in Europe like for you?
JA: It was wonderful. I learned a lot in in all aspects – in cooking and bartending and also interacting with many fascinating people … English speaking people, from all around the world … the US, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand.
SVT: Then what happened?
JA: After being in Torremolinos for six months, I felt it was time to come home, which I did, as I had planned, Upon returning home, I went back to school and got my teaching degree. I then became a substitute 6th grade teacher in San Jose.
SVT: You’re not teaching … something must have happened?
JA: Something did happen. I had started a second job working at what was The Parlor in The Factory in Campbell. I soon was promoted to General Manager. At that time, I realized I could make more money bartending and managing this nightclub than I ever would teaching.
SVT: How long did the teaching career last?
JA: Not too long … because then in 1979, I bought Lord John’s Inn on the Alameda near Santa Clara University. I loved it. It was an Irish Pub and Jazz Bar that served lunches.
We were there from 1979 to 1994. (From 1983 to 1988, I also owned the San Jose Café next to the Old City Hall San Jose).
SVT: Then what happened?
JA: The bad news was, due to the expansion of the university and other uncontrollable forces, I had to close Lord John’s Inn in 1994.
The good news was, however, that just the following year, in 1995, I opened Il Postale (the actual site of the old Post Office in downtown Sunnyvale. Il Postale means the Post Office in Italian. I could have called it Joe’s, I suppose, but there already was one, the original one, Original Joe’s).
So, Il Postale was born. It was one of the first new businesses and the beginning of the resurgence of Downtown Sunnyvale.
SVT: What do you love most about what you do?
JA: Everything. Creating the menu and the drink planning and being a father figure for our 25 terrific employees. We are like a family. I also love interacting with the customers.
We truly enjoy a regular clientele in the heart of Silicon Valley.
SVT: Any special memories?
JA: Oh, yes, many. Every day is a new experience. I have seen first dates and then I will see them come back for anniversaries and also with their children … and watch them grow before my eyes. Many couples keep coming back for their Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve – as a tradition. I love that.
SVT: Have you seen changes over the years?
JA: Oh, sure. Times change and I work hard to keep abreast and adjust accordingly to such changes. In 20 years, – we see an influx of different ethnic backgrounds, tastes and wishes. People also like to eat healthier. We have introduced small plate options for healthier, lighter meals (which are very popular) as well as a wide variety of vegetarian and gluten free delicious items.
We are not your typical Italian restaurant. We are an Italian-American Bistro. Italian may not always be the food of choice, so we need to stay on top of what people like. We do not want to tell people what to eat; however, we have a wonderful variety to choose from. There is something here for everyone.