BOCA RATON — Merlino’s, the Boca Raton Italian restaurant fronted by Philadelphia organized crime boss “Skinny” Joey Merlino, is up for sale just months after the grand opening, Gossip Extra has learned.
Guess the mafia ain’t in vogue no more!
With a menu of Philly-style Italian fares based on recipes from Skinny Joey’s mother, the restaurant was opened in downtown Boca Raton by investors in early 2015 who poured at least $2 million into the operation.
At 54, Skinny Joey can’t get a liquor license because of his status as convicted felon who served 14 years in the big house for racketeering. So, he was offered a salaried job as a maitre d’ even if, by most accounts, he didn’t have the right personality.
The restaurant also lacked continuity both by the stove in the kitchen and out front and was never able to capitalize on its early buzz.
And it didn’t help that Merlino went back to the slammer for four months after the grand opening because authorities said he violated his parole when he sat down with fellow Mafia don John “Johnny Chang” Ciancaglini at a Boca cigar bar.
While working at the restaurant, Merlino also spent plenty of time denying accusations he is still running the bookmaking and extortion racket in Philly.
Merlino’s, the restaurant, has been listed with A. Tom Prakas of Prakas & Co. The asking price for the eatery located at the corner of SE 1st Avenue and East Royal Palm Road is $399,000. It’s been closed for almost a month, and a voice on the answering machine says it’ll be closed for the summer, at least until October.
But we heard they’re open for offers, just make them one they can’t refuse!