They came by the dozens on Wednesday to pick up items on their holiday shopping lists and to say goodbye to a place that has been beloved by generations.
George Traverso, tall and dressed smartly in an apron and tie, greeted them all warmly, many with hugs, as he rang up purchases at the Fountaingrove store that bears his family's name.
"It's a sad ending to a long run," he said, referring to the store closing next week after nearly 90 years in operation.
Traverso's Market Through The Years
Michael Traverso in Traverso's in 2001. PD FILE, 2001
Traverso's Gourmet Foods & Liquors co-owners, George Traverso, left, and his son, Michael, stand in the Fountaingrove location in 2010. PD FILE, 2010
Charlie Traverso, right, stands at the front of his new market on Second and A streets in Santa Rosa in 1941. PD FILE
Claudia Valentini takes a sandwich order from Denna Pipkin, of Sebastopool, at Traverso's in Santa Rosa in 2001. PD FILE, 2001
Traverso's chef Claudio Valentini cuts into a wheel of parmigiano in 2004. PD FILE, 2004
Michael Traverso , left, checks out many long time customers of Traverso's in 2004. PD FILE, 2004
Bill Traverso talks wine with Barbara Wolf of Santa Rosa, at Traverso's in 2009. PD FILE, 2009
Traverso's at Fountaingrove Village in 2009. PD FILE, 2009
Traverso's had been at Third and B streets in Santa Rosa since 1973 until it moved to Fountaingrove in 2009. PD FILE, 2004
Jamie Castle, Ryan Kelley and Colleen Robello write down their sandwich orders at Traverso's in 2009. PD FILE, 2009
Suzanne Walsh and her husband Ned, of Ukiah, check out wines at Traverso's in 2009. PD FILE, 2009
Wine at Traverso's in 2009. PD FILE, 2009
Traverso's co-owner, George Traverso, stands in the family's Fountaingrove location in 2010. PD FILE, 2010
Claudio Valentini of Traverso's prepares parmesan cheese for packaging in 2010. PD FILE, 2010
Construction on the old Traverso's building at Third Street and B Street in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011. PD FILE, 2011
George Traverso, right, rings up a sandwich order for Shawn Tumpney, of Santa Rosa, and friend Jan Hammond, of New Hampshire, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. JOHN BURGESS/ PD
Wednesday was the final day customers could go to Traverso's Gourmet Foods to pick up cartons of holiday raviolis or purchase made-to-order sandwiches, including those made by Elena Colombana, who has worked at Traverso's for 22 years.
Colombana fought back tears as she accepted hugs from customers. The 69-year-old Santa Rosa woman said she has no idea what she'll do after next Wednesday, when the deli closes for good.
"This is my life," she said. "I love doing what I'm doing."
She and the store's five other employees are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
But with only four years under his belt, Fred Thumhart said he hadn't worked there long enough to be vested.
Thumhart, who is married and has a three-year-old daughter, said he'll take some time before he looks for another job.
"There's nothing easy about it," he said. "I know it wasn't easy for the family to close the store."