In preparation to close their doors, Bisetti’s owners reflect on 39 years of business

Claire Oliver

Bisetti’s, a 42-year-old Italian restaurant in Old Town, is closing a the end of this month. The restaurant is reserved throughout the rest of the month until closing day. (Photo by Olive Ancell | Collegian)

Local businesses have a large impact on communities. They become ingrained into the lives of the people who walk in the door. 

Bisetti’s, which opened in 1976, has impacted the Fort Collins in many ways, with Italian family recipes and reliable service for 42 years. After all this time, the restaurant will closes its doors at the end of January.

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Heather and Robert Bisetti have owned the restaurant at 120 College Ave since 1988 when the couple purchased the restaurant from Robert Bisetti’s parents. Anita Bisetti and her husband, Bob Bisetti, owned the restaurant from 1979 to 1988, but Bob Bisetti, Robert Bisetti’s dad, has been in the restaurant industry since he was 13-years-old. 

“My dad had been in the business when he was young, 13 to 27, and he really liked it and thrived in it,” Robert Bisetti said. “But he never owned a restaurant. He was a waiter, and then he got married and I was born when he was 27 … This was the first restaurant her ever owned.”

Robert Bisetti’s parents are both from Italian backgrounds. Anita Bisetti is a second generation Italian American who’s family hails from Naples, and his dad was born in the Piedmont area of northern Italy by Lake Como. 

After Robert Bisetti’s parents divorced in 1985, Robert Bisetti dropped out of college to help his mom run the restaurant until 1988 when he and Heather Bisetti purchased it.  

“We’ve had the place for 39 years,” Robert Bisetti said. 

Both Robert and Heather Bisetti were students at Colorado State University. Heather Bisetti graduated with a degree in Dietetics and Nutrition and was also part of the CSU cheerleading squad. 

“I love being in Fort Collins, especially downtown,” Heather Bisetti said. “I love the whole atmosphere.  Downtown, to me, is so charming, and so many communities don’t have this kind of spot. We love it here and definitely miss it.”

The restaurant has played host to many events throughout the years including graduation parties, anniversary celebrations and engagements. 

Mike Mullane, a CSU graduate of 1993, met his wife, Maria Mullane, in Fort Collins while they were both studying at the College of Business. Mullane booked the private table near the front of the restaurant when he proposed. 

“I had flowers and champagne; the whole deal,” Mullane said. “I couldn’t get on one knee though because there wasn’t really any room.” 

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Despite not getting on one knee, Mullane and his wife have now been married for 21 years and live in Colorado.   

“I really can’t think of a restaurant that has been around for as long as Bisetti’s has,” Mullane said. “It really is a staple of Fort Collins. We will miss it.”

From letters to pictures in front of the awning outside the restaurant, there is an overwhelming amount of stories and memories about Bisetti’s, according to Robert Bisetti. 

“We just thought we owned just a little Italian restaurant, and we didn’t give any credence to this kind of thing,” Robert Bisetti said. “People just pull me over in the restaurant — people I don’t even know — and say things like, ‘I met my wife here.’” 

“We just thought we owned just a little Italian restaurant, and we didn’t give any credence to this kind of thing.”

Robert Bisetti

Even old staff members who now live in different states like Texas, Seattle and Michigan are coming in to say goodbye to the place. 

Brooke Schmidt, a former employee and CSU alum reflected on her time at Bisetti’s. 

“It was a place I was proud to say I worked at,” Schmidt said.  “I always felt like a part of the team and like I could ask any question.”

Schmidt graduated from CSU in 2000 with a degree in Journalism. She worked at the restaurant for just nine months from 1998-1999. She started in the kitchen preparing salads and desserts and moved up to the front because of her previous restaurant experience. 

“I feel nostalgic and sad to see it go,” Schmidt said.  “There are a lot of good memories there.”   

The decision to close was made for location reasons, according to Heather Bisetti. The couple moved to Arizona six years ago and have been running the restaurant along with an art and framing gallery in Pheonix. 

“We currently represent 60 local artists down in Phoenix,” Heather Bisetti said. “We have a really great management team that we have had for years in Fort Collins, so we have been able to develop our businesses in both places. But I think we are just ready to retire from this.” 

Heather and Robert Bisetti’s art and framing gallery includes modern artistic styles from whimsical to abstract to southwestern contemporary. They have thousands of paintings and custom framing options. 

The pieces began to fall into place for Robert and Heather Bisetti’s semi-retirement when the couple was offered a price on the two buildings that Bisetti’s is located in. The plans are not set into stone, but the space will probably be divided into three different store fronts when the restaurant closes. 

“(Robert and I) just looked at each other one day and were like well, 30 years, that’s a good number,” Heather Bisetti said. “Real estate in downtown is at a high. We got a great offer, and so it all fit.” 

The restaurant has been packed in these recent weeks, according to Heather Bisetti. Each day brings between 500 and 700 people looking to sit down and enjoy a last meal from the family favorite restaurant. 

Bisetti’s will be open until the end of the day on January 29. 

Collegian reporter Claire Oliver can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @claire_oliver21