Granzella's Legendary Hospitality
By Kimberly Boney
Granzella's Legendary HospitalitySeptember 2015
By Kimberly Boney
Photos: Jeannine Hendrickson
A sweet smile and a twinkling pair of eyes shine from underneath a bubblegum pink floppy sun hat, one that was purchased at Granzella’s and was lovingly taken off the head of the satisfied customer when Mr. James “Jim” Granzella himself was asked to pose for a photo. He plopped the hat onto his head, bringing a gleeful feeling of happiness to the young ladies in the photo. It was a moment they would never forget.
The warm, fun-loving spirit of the man in the photo is the very essence of Granzella’s, a bustling oasis of gourmet food and hospitality just off the I-5 corridor in Williams. The weary traveler and the savvy local alike find sanctuary in the edible delights to be found here. Imagine a selection of local olives, grown in Orland and seasoned at Granzella’s own plant, available for your sampling pleasure. Delight in a made-to-order deli sandwich featuring top quality, hand-sliced meat and bread made in San Francisco from Granzella’s own recipe. From gourmet crackers and spreads, an extensive selection of wines and a refreshing array of gelato to hard-to-find fare from every corner of the world, Granzella’s is a little piece of foodie heaven. Floor-to-ceiling displays feature a distinctive old world style, one that makes you feel as if you are traveling the globe from the comfort of home.
The gourmand in everyone is likely to be inspired by the offerings, but perhaps what is most incredible about Granzella’s is its place as a North State icon. Established in 1976, Granzella’s became more than just a stop-over —it became a destination. In 1996, it spread its wings
to incorporate Granzella’s Inn, a boutique-style hotel adjacent to the restaurant. In 2007, fire destroyed the restaurant, deli and sports bar, leaving just enough of the former structure to provide a glimmer of hope.
“We spent the first day crying, and then we said, ‘Let’s get back on track’. There was
never a question of whether or not we would rebuild. It took nine months, which is incredibly fast. My brother Dino was in charge of the rebuilding process,” says Stacie McCarty, granddaughter of Jim Granzella and office manager for Granzella’s.
“I was able to come and take measurements before the excavator tore it down entirely. I had to wear a gas mask and go in for very short bits of time, running back and forth to jot down measurements,” says Dino McCarty, grandson of Jim Granzella and general manager for the restaurant and deli.
Dino was set on retaining the original structure, the one his grandfather had worked so hard to maintain for more than 30 years. Dino, who used to stand on a box built for him by his dad, Bill McCarty, when he was too small to reach the sink to wash dishes, refuted the suggestion to “scrap the old structure and start fresh.” Instead, he found a way to attain the best of both worlds. The gift shop, built in 2008, was the silver lining that came out of the fire, established just across the street in the building used as the interim deli while the original site was rebuilt.
Dino remembers the kindness of a fire chief from another community that heard about the fire and immediately came to help. With the support of the fire chief on duty at the scene, the visiting fire chief gathered up available firefighters and some staff members and worked to safely remove the dearly loved taxidermy animals from the sports bar, preserving a part of the uniqueness of Granzella’s.
“My brother and I literally grew up here. I thought it was the worst day of my life, but it was nothing like losing him,” says Stacie.
Sadly, Jim Granzella succumbed to cancer in October 2013, the pain of his loss still fresh in the minds of his family, employees and customers alike. But his family— which includes the more than 17 biological family members who work at Granzella’s and a total staff of close to 140 people—has made a commitment to carry out his vision.
At the helm of the establishment is Jim’s belief that family was, is, and always will be “everything.” It’s the core value that Stacie says radiates from every facet of the business: “His sense of family was amazing,” Stacie says.
“He treated all of us… well, words can’t even describe. I often say, ‘I work here, but this is my home.’”
Dino says his grandfather’s legacy is carried on through hard work and the team’s unwavering commitment to quality, two things that Jim taught them: “In business, there are things that you have to adjust, but we will never cut the quality. We always want to do the best for our customers. People don’t want to wait a long time for it, but it should always be a quality product. Our team has to be quick and efficient to carry this out. We wouldn’t be what we are without our staff.”
“People often ask how we all get along,” says Stacie. “As my grandpa used to say, ‘We scream and yell, we cuss and then we get over it.’ He wouldn’t let anything come between him and his family. We are all very blessed to have that. I think my grandmother, Beverly Granzella, carries on the legacy of family the most. I’d love to give my grandpa all the credit, but my grandmother is ‘the woman behind the man’. She’s the head of the family. She is still the force behind this family.”