Saporito’s of Hull closes

After almost a quarter of a century in business, Saporito’s Florence Club Café in Hull has closed.

Long before the South Shore became home to many good, even excellent, restaurants, Saporito’s was attracting critical acclaim and customers on a par with places in Boston.

The small restaurant, about 300 yards from the Atlantic near the Hingham town line, was opened in 1988 by chef Maryann Saporito Booth- royd and her husband, Andy Boothroyd.

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In 2004, the Boothroyds sold the business — but not the building — to another husband and wife team: chefs Eric and Annemarie Stenfors.  

The Stenfors, both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, managed the difficult feat of maintaining Saporito’s legacy, garnering good reviews, and attracting a loyal following. But business slowed over the past couple years, and earlier this year, Eric became executive chef of Nantucket’s Met on Main, part of Boston restaurateur Kathy Sidell’s The Met Group. 

Meanwhile, Annemarie and staff remained at Saporito’s, hoping summer business could pull them out of the hole. When it didn’t, they decided to offer the business for sale, but there were no takers.

“In an ideal situation, we would have sold the business, but it didn’t work out that way,” said Annemarie.

“It was the toughest decision we’ve ever made, but we had to make a business decision, not an emotional one. Employees and regular customers were like family.’’

Annemarie and the couple’s two young children will move to Nantucket, where she will probably pitch in part-time baking at Met on Main.

Saporito’s last night in business was a wines from Rome dinner on Sept. 19.  

“I’m afraid the Saporito’s name will not continue on,” said Andy Boothroyd, who now owns Marshfield’s Hola with his wife. “It had a good, long run though.”

What’s next for the 85-seat restaurant is anybody’s guess. The Boothroyds have had a couple of casual inquiries, but nothing definite.