Wednesday, February 28, 2024


Molino’s, in Court House, Closing After 53 Years

Drew Buchanan works the oven at Avalon Pizza in 1977. Buchanan will open MexItalia

By Shay Roddy

COURT HOUSE – Molino’s, a longtime takeout favorite on Route 9, announced it will close Nov. 12, but the brick ovens will be firing again after only a few days when a familiar face will take over the space.
Drew Buchanan told the Herald he will open MexItalia, a combined pizzeria and taqueria, Nov. 15. Buchanan was the longtime operator of Circle Pizza, in Avalon, a business his family founded over 50 years ago. 
Buchanan’s roots in food service are deep. Avalon Pizza was opened in the space that is now Via Mare Ristorante by his family in 1968. In 1978 the family opened Circle Pizza and operated both, until selling Avalon Pizza to the late Vito Perricci, who founded Via Mare in 1975. Buchanan also opened Avalon eateries Big Chancho’s Tacos and Beach Burger and maintained the Garden of Eat’n food court, an outdoor seating area that tied all of the businesses together. 
After summer 2021, Buchanan sold his restaurants and the land, which occupies a large portion of the corner of 21st Street and Dune Drive for $5 million to the family that owns the Utz Potato Chip empire. The new owners have continued operating Circle Pizza and Big Chancho’s.
“I needed to do something. I can’t sit around. I took a year off and it was enough,” Buchanan said.
Some of the specialty menu items on the MexItalia menu are identical to Circle Pizza’s, like the “Spicoli White Pizza,” “Buckman Fries,” and “Oven Grinder” while others are taken directly from the menu at Big Chancho’s Tacos. 
It isn’t just the menu that’s making the move to the mainland. Buchanan said some of his old Avalon staff will be coming with him. Big Chancho’s Tacos has been closed this year for the winter by the new ownership, which Buchanan said meant layoffs. 
“I had some really good employees over there at Big Chancho’s Tacos,” Buchanan said. “When they were let go [by new ownership] and they were unemployed, I was really the only guy with a staff and no kitchen. Everybody else has a kitchen and no staff.”
A ribbon cutting, with live music from Sean Loosh, will be held Nov. 18, which Buchanan said Mayor Tim Donohue will attend. But in the days leading up to that, after Buchanan takes over, the ovens will be on, and the doors open. 
“The first three days is really just to feel out the town and see what people expect from us, what they want,” he said. 
In a Facebook post announcing their closing, Molino’s wrote: “The Molino’s family want to thank our hardworking employees and dedicated customers for their years of support.” The business opened in 1969. 
Molino’s did not respond to an inquiry from the Herald prior to publication.
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