“One of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life,” Aurelio’s owner says of closing

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By the end of the month, Aurelio’s Pizza will be serving its last slice in Naperville before closing shop.

“I was very sad and still sad about it,” said customer Susan Reeves.

Fans of the family-owned franchise are finding the news hard to swallow.

“It’s a loss for the community because this place has been a labor of love for them and I know that,” said customer Lisa Haas.

Aurelio’s sites inflation as biggest contributor to closing

The owner of the Naperville franchise at the Springbrook Square plaza near Route 59 posted about its closing on social media Monday night.

“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life,” said co-owner Celeste Wagner. “Between the cost of goods and our wages, it was really difficult justifying staying open without raising the price of our pizza to be beyond people’s reach.”

“Every day it sinks in a little bit more,” said General Manager Tom Moberg.  “I haven’t really wrapped my head around finding another job yet which should be a priority but I have responsibilities here.”

Mentoring young people in the workforce

The restaurant has employed many young students throughout its 12 years and Moberg says it’s been the opportunity to guide them that has kept him there since the franchise opened in 2012.

“These are my kids and I’ve seen a lot of them grow, go away to college.  They always seem to come back to me.  So that was kind of a point of pride,” he said. “I’ve watched them all grow and this job is more than just managing this store, it’s mentoring these kids to be grown adults, and teaching them life skills as well.”

“He’s always very flexible with the schedule and if you’ve got a test the next day, always willing to give you time off to prepare,” said Henry Kunzer, a cook at Aurelio’s and student at College of DuPage.  “The people have been amazing.  It’s a great family.  Everyone’s been so supportive, especially as a student.”

Starting a new chapter

As for Wagner, she says her main focus is helping her employees during this challenging time.

“I want to make sure that they have a firm place to land,” said Wagner.  “I want to assist them in employment in other places and it’s very important to me that they find exactly what they’re looking for.”

The restaurant will be closing its doors on June 30.

“Thank you for 12 fabulous years and supporting us and sharing your celebrations with us,” said Wagner.  “So many people had birthdays, graduations, wedding rehearsals.  It’s just been amazing to watch.”

“I’m glad for all the friends that I’ve made here and all the customers who’ve come in here and asked for my name and built great relationships with a lot of people, said Moberg.

Wagner says a “silver lining” for her is the chance to spend more time with her five grandchildren as she starts this next chapter.

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