‘Thank you for 76 years’ of loyalty: Lucci’s says arrivederci to fans of its pasta and Italian baked goods
The sign out front of Lucci’s Italian American Gourmet Deli-Bakery in Huntington Beach says it all: “Store closing Feb. 26, 2022 … Thank you for 76 years.” Since announcing its impending closure on Feb. 13, the family business has been overwhelmed by community support.
“It’s just amazing,” said Joyce Refice, who works alongside husband Rick and his brother, William, “and I want to thank all of the dedicated and amazing employees we’ve had over the years.”
Lucci’s has had a long life, spanning three generations. It was originally opened in Gardena in 1946 by Lena Lucci, Rick and William Refice’s grandmother. The Huntington Beach location was opened in 1971 by their father, William Refice, Sr. and the two brothers took over the business 20 years later.
One of the shop’s dedicated employees, Jacob Carter, is partnering with Rick Refice’s son, Taylor, to open a new store in the near future at a yet-to-be determined location.
“It was the right time to close, because the owners are ready to retire and the rent was increased,” said Carter, who has been with Lucci’s for nine years.
Carter explained that his experience working in all sections of the store from catering, the deli, the bakery, grocery and as a cashier, has taught him to know what customers like.
“We want to keep it as local as possible,” said Carter. “We’ll be taking all of our signature items to the next location. Even though there won’t be a restaurant, it will be a tribute to the very best Lucci’s has to offer.”
Longtime Lucci’s customers have made it a point to visit the store one last time in recent days.
“It’s heartbreaking that they are closing,” said Tania Bounader of Costa Mesa. “They have the best pizza dough in Orange County. I buy 12 packages and put them in the freezer, and their honey ham sandwiches are the best.”
Carter concurred the pizza kits along with the heat-and-eat entrees are the best sellers. “The dough is sold out before noon every day,” Carter said.
Ross Balocco, who lives within walking distance of Lucci’s, has been coming there for 15 years. “The most memorable is taking my daughter here for her free cookie,” said Balocco. “We come over and eat once a week in the restaurant and buy pizza kits for sleepovers.”
Balocco said he grew up near an Italian deli himself and knows how hard it is to find specialized items like the panettone bread they carry at Lucci’s.
Newport Beach resident Kathy Stefano said she also feels the nostalgia shopping at an Italian market brings.
“It takes me back many years ago and reminds me of the one in Burbank where I used to live,” said Stefano. “Lucci’s has a great selection of pasta, better than any other market, and their gluten free pasta cooks better than any other.”
Carmella Roccuzzo drove from Newport Beach last Friday to see what groceries were left, only to find the shelves nearly bare. Roccuzzo, who buys pasta as a weekly staple, liked that she was able to find the larger quantity 5-pound boxes that Lucci’s sold.
“I was also hoping to pick up some pizza dough, but I ended up in the bakery, buying a slice of rum cake for myself and carrot cake and lemon roll cake for friends,” said Roccuzzo. “This is just another sign all these mom-and-pop businesses are going away.”
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