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Traverso's marks a day of sales, hugs and thanksgiving

  • George Traverso receives a goodwill embrace from friend Amy Chaffin of Santa Rosa, Wednesday Nov. 23, 2011 during Traverso's last day of selling deli sandwiches prior to their closing next week. At right is son Micahel Traverso. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

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

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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."


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