With ‘tremendous sadness,’ Vin Santo announces closing for ‘foreseeable future’

The more than 22-year-old Italian restaurant in Middleton is certainly not the first or last local restaurant to close due to the persisting pandemic.
Fall in love all over again with Vin Santo
Photo by Nicole Peaslee
Vin Santo's Scampi Gabriella

“Tremendous sadness” were the words Gregg Edwardsen used to explain what he and wife Clarissa Edwardsen were feeling as they announced the closing of their Italian restaurant, Vin Santo, for the foreseeable future.

It’s what I’m feeling, too, as restaurants’ “temporarily closing” announcements turn into “closing for good” ones. We knew it would happen if the pandemic persisted, and the time has finally come that we’re having to say goodbye to restaurants that have helped define our community.

The Edwardsens’ news, which was posted to Vin Santo’s website on Sept. 9, did note that this may not be the official end, but they would “need the business climate to change significantly and relatively soon if we are to carry on.”

The intimate dining area of the 14-table restaurant in Middleton had been closed for 70 days, followed by another 100 days of severely reduced capacity. “Due to the COVID-19 regulations imposed on businesses like ours in Dane County it is not possible for Vin Santo to continue on as is,” reads the Edwardsens’ announcement. “It has become very clear this is the only reasonable option for our small family business, our staff, our families and frankly our personal well-being.”

The restaurant has served classic Italian dishes for more than 22 years, and the place holds special sentimentality for me, as it was one of my first “Tastemaker” features. “Tastemaker,” later renamed “In the Kitchen,” was the name of the monthly restaurant feature I wrote for the magazine until it was discontinued May 2020. I fondly remember my interview with Gregg and Clarissa back in 2016. They served me a piece of tiramisu that I would continue to make special trips to the restaurant for. And I was incredibly honored to know Gregg and Clarissa had framed the 2017 Tastemaker feature and had it hanging near the bar in the restaurant.

 

Gregg, a Wisconsin native, and Clarissa, who grew up in Oxfordshire, England, found each other as well as a shared interest in Italian food, and they created a local eatery that was beloved by many regulars. They lived and breathed the restaurant. Fall in love all over again with Vin SantoNearly always, both were there, Gregg in the kitchen and Clarissa seating guests. If you went to Vin Santo’s, you were part of the Edwardsens’ restaurant family. “We’ve had a lot of fun watching families grow,” Gregg told me back in 2017. They also watched their daughter, Hanna, grow up alongside the restaurant. “Since 5 years old, through the good times and the bumps in the road, she weathered the challenges of being a ‘restaurant kid’ with understanding and grace well beyond her years,” Vin Santo’s announcement reads. “We hope she knows what an inspiration she has been and continues to be to us both. Thank you little girl. Thank you all for an awesome adventure.

The Edwardsens noted that they will keep guests up-to-date on any developments on Vin Santo’s website.