LISBON — It has been almost six years since Graziano’s Casa Mia Restaurant closed, but a member of the family is bringing the heart of the business back to town.

Mary Graziano Richard officially opened Grazi to Go at the beginning of the year. Less than two blocks from the corner where the restaurant once stood, now known as Graziano’s Square, Richard has a new kitchen. And as the name implies, customers should not expect the traditional dining experience, but can now order from a menu of some of the restaurant’s favorites.

“My thoughts of doing it started over a year ago,” Richard said. “I was working over at Henry and Marty in Brunswick. I had friends that were asking me, ‘Hey, can you make this or can you make that from the restaurant?’ A bunch of people said I should open up a restaurant. I didn’t want to open a restaurant.”

Richard, 50, began busing tables and doing dishes when she was 10 years old. Her father, Joe Graziano Sr., started the business in 1969, and Richard’s parents and three siblings all worked in the restaurant at one point.

Richard has filled just about every role at the business and knew what would go into opening a restaurant. After years of working nights and weekends, she decided the business model of Grazi to Go was right for her.

“The restaurant closing was tough, but I don’t miss it. I miss the people,” Richard said. “I miss the people I worked with and I miss the excitement of a busy night. But, I don’t miss the nights and weekends and working 10- to 15-hour days.”


Grazi to Go is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. It is best to call ahead because same-day orders will depend on what she has in stock. The menu is expected to develop over time, but Richard is happy to be bringing the flavor of Graziano’s back to the community.

Lasagnas, chicken Parmesan, meatballs, sauces and dressings are among the items starting the menu.

“Everything’s the same,” she said. “I’m doing the best I can to make sure it stays that way. There’s limited items on the menu right now, but I’ll run specials and take requests.”

The return of the menu items has been well-received so far. With the blessing of her employers at Henry and Marty, Richard and her brother did a Graziano’s pop-up a year ago. She said they had to do two in January and February because it was overbooked with customers longing for the food and dining experience.

At her new location, operating out of the old St. Anne’s Church side entrance on Village Street, there is no inside dining experience, but Richard realized even before she opened the takeout operation how much the food was missed. The people who have supported her through this process — whom she calls her “restaurant family” — ordered in force before her official opening.

“I was here the night before Christmas Eve until 4:30 in the morning just to try to get everything done,” Richard said. “I went home and came back around 8, it was a lot of work. I had no idea what I was going to get.”


Richard enlisted the help of her husband and brother to get through that week, but she plans to operate the business on her own. It is a change from the large restaurant her family operated for 43 years, but she is happy to be back after her family’s eatery closed abruptly in 2012.

“It was a very quick decision because that building was huge,” Richard said. “It was really five separate buildings. I said to my brother: ‘We can’t keep doing this. We need oil, we need payroll.’”

“We (closed) without any fanfare, and I know it wasn’t the best way to do it. But if we said we were closing ahead of time, we wouldn’t have had enough product or anything to keep it going.”

The quick goodbye was difficult for Richard and her brother, Joe Graziano Jr., but the cost of maintaining the large space led to the decision. She looks back fondly at the building that was razed a year after the restaurant closed. Richard had an upstairs apartment for 15 years.

Customers will still experience a little nostalgia when visiting Richard’s new space. The doors that separate the kitchen and pickup window are from the restaurant’s “Main Event” room, along with the sign for the room. She also has the first picture she remembers as a child from the business.

The Grazi to Go logo has boxing gloves hanging from the letters, a theme of the former restaurant. Richard’s father died in 2000, but the theme is a nod to his uncle, a restaurateur and boxing trainer in upstate New York, from whom her father learned the business.


The original doors are usually a good conversation starter for those with memories of Graziano’s. Richard said she has had quite a few of those conversations with customers.

“I don’t know if I waited longer or did it sooner it would have made a difference,” Richard said. “It’s working for now. I’m going to just take it one day at a time.”

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Mary Graziano Richard stirs a pot of sauce in preparation for the day’s orders at Grazi to Go, her new eatery in Lisbon. Richard is serving some of the favorites from Graziano’s Casa Mia Restaurant, which closed in 2012 in Lisbon. (The Times Record photo by Chris Quattrucci)

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