2016-12-22 / News

Anjon’s in Scarborough up for sale after 60 years

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

The DiSanto family, which has operated Anjon’s on the corner of Route 1 and Milliken Road since the 1950s, has decided to put the restaurant up for sale and divert attention to launching the Anjon’s line of pasta sauce nationwide. (Michael Kelley photo) The DiSanto family, which has operated Anjon’s on the corner of Route 1 and Milliken Road since the 1950s, has decided to put the restaurant up for sale and divert attention to launching the Anjon’s line of pasta sauce nationwide. (Michael Kelley photo) SCARBOROUGH – Anjon’s has been serving Italian food, steak and seafood at 521 Route 1 for 60 years, but restaurant owner John DiSanto has placed the family-run restaurant up for sale, indicating now is the time to solely focus on the pasta sauce business he launched more than 25 years ago.

“We’ve been successful. It’s going to be bittersweet. I am sure I am going to shed some tears when we sell, but it is time to move on to my sauce business. I just can’t keep up with the demand,” DiSanto said of the sauce business, which has grown since he launched it in 1990.

The property and its 180-seat restaurant is being listed by CBRE | The Boulos Company of Portland for $1.365 million and is being marketed to other area restaurant owners.

“The highest and best use is to have another restaurant go in there just because of the history of success there,” said listing agent Vince Ciampi, an associate broker with the real estate company. They have been there 63 years and have always done well.”

Ciampi said it need not be another Italian restaurant. Given its visibility on Route 1, which according to CBRE | The Boulos Company, handles 23,000 vehicles a day, any type of restaurant could work.

“It provides a great starting point for another restaurant to come into the market and take it over,” he said.

The view out the dinner room window alone may entice an area restaurant to set up shop in the Anjon’s building.

“The location is amazing. The views are spectacular. We are right in the middle of the marsh. We are marketing it to other restaurants who may be looking to capitalize on that,” DiSanto said.

Karen Martin, executive director of Scarborough Economic Development Corporation, said although her office has not had a role in helping to find a new owner or marketing the property, it is a situation she is following.

“It is an interesting location and might be right for someone looking to break into the market,” Martin said.

Martin said “now that we have some new restaurants under our belt” the Scarborough restaurant market is changing, which means it may be “the right time” for someone to buy Anjon’s.

There are a number of new restaurants in Scarborough that have recently opened or are in the works. O’Reilly’s Cure, a restaurant/bar recently opened in the Bessey Square complex at 264 Route 1 and Pho Hong Vietnamese Restaurant has taken over the space where Chicago Dogs used to operate. Two restaurants are planned for the Eight Corners intersection: Nonesuch River Brewery is being constructed on Gorham Road and Asian Fusion is slated to be located on Mussey Road. Restaurants are also planned at the proposed Dunstan Properties mixed use development by Dunstan Crossings on Route 1 and the old Conroy’s Garage site on the corner of East Grand Avenue and Pine Point Road.

It is not the first time the DiSanto family has thought about unloading the property. DiSanto said he put the restaurant on the market a decade ago, but pulled it off after 30 days.

“I thought I wanted to sell, but I got cold feet because I loved it so much, I changed my mind and I just couldn’t do it,” he said.

DiSanto said he decided to put the property on the market this time rather than pass it along to the next generation. The restaurant was built by DiSanto’s grandparents Ann and John DiSanto in 1954 and has stayed in the family since opening in 1957.

“My son is also involved in the sauce business and we decided that’s where our future lies,” said DiSanto, who has been working in the restaurant for 40 years.

DiSanto said he will miss his customers when he walks away from restaurant operation.

“The customers, I am going to miss. We’ve got to know so many people,” he said.

DiSanto said he has received a mixed reaction about the sale.

“A lot of people are sad to see us go, but a lot of customers are happy to see the sauce business going nationwide and getting national recognition,” he wrote in an email to the Leader.

Like the food offered at the restaurant, the sauces come from recipes DiSanto’s grandmother used in Nola, Italy, a small community northeast of Naples. Anjon’s uses a copacker: Giovanni Foods in Syracuse, New York that he said has perfected the family recipes. Since the company can produce 1,000 cans of sauce a day, a much greater quantity than cane be produced at the restaurant, DiSanto said “when we sell, all sauces will be made by our copacker to keep up with the demand.”

Anjon’s offers seven varieties of sauce: marinara pasta sauce, Sicilian pasta sauce, tomato sauce, puttanesca pasta sauce, pizza sauce, vodka pasta sauce, and lobster fra diavolo. In March 2005, the Rosengarten Report, a food newsletter written by noted chef and food critic David Rosengarten, named the puttanesca sauce the number one pasta sauce among 500 sauces sampled.

Right now the sauce can be found in many local grocery food stores, including area Hannaford locations, Bow Street Market in Freeport and Legion Square Market in South Portland. Sauce can be ordered online, but with the new focus on the sauce business, DiSanto hopes to get his sauce sold in Hannaford, Whole Foods, Market Basket, Shaw’s, Publix, Albertsons, Harris Teeter, Earthfare, Sprouts Farmers Market, The Fresh Market, Wegmans, Food Lion, Sam’s Club, BJs, Winn-Dixie, Kroeger, Target, SuperValu, Stop & Shop and Costco locations across the country.

“It’s been a wonderful journey, but I am ready for my next big adventure,” DiSanto said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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