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Grazie Owners Sleuth to Track Source of Rumors

Gossip about closure may be the result of building signage for real estate agency just above the Grant Avenue restaurant.

Grazie Café Italiano owner Renee Norman can’t understand why the rumors persist that the restaurant is closing when she says business is great. She said in a well-connected town such as Novato, misinformation spreads just as fast as good news.

But lately a clue has surfaced on why the rumor continues, and it has to do with the 10-agent Century 21 real estate office located above the restaurant at Grant and Sherman avenues. At first glance, the signage on the second floor balcony could be mistaken as a "For Sale" sign instead of merely company signage. Norman said she confirmed with her landlord that the building is not for sale.

“You know, my husband and I have talked about it,” Norman said. “People are always asking if the building is for sale.”

Century 21 representatives said they've had a great relationship with the Grazie's staff and have patronized the restaurant often, even holding meetings with clients there. Jeff Collaso, one of four owners of the Century 21 franchise, said this story was the first he heard that there was any confusion that might have been tied to the sign hanging outside the building. 

Norman didn't express a problem with Century 21 but just wanted to clarify for readers and Grazie's patrons that there's a real estate office above the restaurant … not a "For Sale" sign.

Norman said she’s in year two of her five-year lease and continues to invest in the restaurant with new flooring and upgraded bathrooms.

“We’re doing really great, and I’m having fun right now,” she said.

With two children ages 2 and 5, Renee said operating the restaurant is a juggle, but she’s loving it. Considering that her youngest was a newborn when she re-opened Grazie, she said that it’s actually gotten a little easier. 

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Craig Belfor September 27, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Many years ago there was an untrue rumor that the Garden Court restaurant, run by Grace Chan, had been caught by the health department using cats for meat. The rumor spread so fast that the Novato Advance had to tun an article, backed up by the county, to quell the rumors. People love bad news. That's how Evel Knevel got famous. The rumors of their good food, reasonable prices, and friendly service will never hit the front page.
Jim September 27, 2012 at 01:35 PM
This is without a doubt the best Italian restaurant in Novato and one of the best in Marin. Renee and her staff are a delight, the food outstanding and the place has a cozy metro ambiance. What a shame that this rumor has taken hold, you'd think Century 21 would do the right thing and install a sign that was clear and not ambiguous.
Lloyd September 27, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Ate lunch there yesterday and Renee isn't going anywhere. In fact business is so good she could use a little more space to expand. My favorite restaurant in town. I wish we had several more great restaurants like Grazie.
Bobbie Henry September 27, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Love Grazie! Fantastic food, great energy & extremely friendly staff. Renee is doing a fabulous job & definitely here to stay!
Jeff Collaso September 27, 2012 at 04:47 PM
I'm the owner of Century 21 and unfortunately Renee never mentioned this to us. Our sign makes no indication of anything being for sale. It's just our name, phone number and website like most other businesses. Perhaps it was because Grazie's did close for a short time before Renee took over. Either way I'd be happy to connect with Renee to address her concerns.
Jerry September 27, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Good food and service is right! One of the best restaurants in the North Bay. Enjoy!
Kristen K September 27, 2012 at 05:59 PM
As the Manager of Century 21 we were never aware of any rumors or issues with our signage. The relationship between Grazie and Century 21 has been a very good one. In fact Renee has always supported the REALTOR community.
NovatoGuy September 27, 2012 at 06:09 PM
How are you going to address her concerns? By taking down your sign?
Kristen K September 27, 2012 at 06:49 PM
The Owner's of Grazie's have no concerns regarding our signage and has not ask us to remove it.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Jeff and Kristen, thanks for your notes on this. Seems this has nothing to do with the relationship between the two businesses — which we're told is great — but rather just people driving by and getting the wrong impression.
R. Maionchi September 27, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Ok folks.....as the manager of 823 Grant Ave., the building which houses Grazie's and Century 21 as well as my office, the building is not for sale, has not been, and will not be for many years to come. The Century 21 signage has been posted on the building for nearly 2 years. All rumors.....Novato Patch should have done their homework before running this article. I hope this clears the rumors up!!
R. Maionchi September 27, 2012 at 07:55 PM
The sign says nothing about "FOR SALE". it's just a business sign!
Mark Burnham September 27, 2012 at 08:11 PM
how much for the building?
Bob Ratto September 27, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Very funny...Get this, I was up in Klamath Falls/Tulelake from Sunday to Tuesday, and i am talking to the CFO of the company, and she is excited they are going to move from Tulelake to Klamath (about 23 miles North)..I ask, how big is the building, she says about 23k square feet...I'm thinking oh, wow must have cost a lot...turns out it was a vacant old newspaper building, sat on market vacant for about 6 years, original asking price was $1.4MM, then dropped to $600k...final purchase price..$300k...we then had a short discussion about fiscal responsibility...

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