Permanent closure appeared to be the fate of Maria’s Italian American Deli in Newhall, closing last October and just a few years shy from serving the Santa Clarita Valley for 50 years.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian Hernandez and Jonathan Carrillo, long-time SCV residents who met while working at In-N-Out Burger, decided to take on ownership of the Newhall restaurant.
“Maria’s is a staple in the community. I’ve been coming here since high school for 30 years, and when I saw it closing it kind of broke my heart a little bit,” Hernandez said. “This is a piece of our Santa Clarita Valley. So, I definitely wanted to keep the tradition going. Maria is a great lady, the family has a great legacy that I wanted to continue.”
At the end of 2020, Hernandez and Carrillo spent four months revamping, redecorating and cleaning up the restaurant in preparation for its reopening on May 5.
When it comes to the menu, all the customer favorites remain, including the Godfather sandwich, the Godmother sandwich, prosciutto sandwich, gourmet pizzas, as well as the classic lasagna and spaghetti dishes. Any changes made to the menu by Hernandez and Carrillo were approved by Maria Simione, the property owner and the restaurant’s second owner, along with her son Bruno.
Maria’s Italian-American Deli also sells a variety of grocery items customers can pick up and take home to do some cooking with imported ingredients, including sauces, pasta, peppers, desserts and snacks.
Hernandez, who’s worked in the restaurant industry for 24 years, also made an effort to purchase the exact same ingredients that Simione previously used.
“That’s all I know, so this is very natural for me. When people say they love what they do, I love what I do,” he said.
“Maria’s is definitely different than any other restaurant I’ve owned,” Hernandez said. “There’s high expectations for Maria’s and I don’t want to let her down, or myself down, or my crew. Just getting that consistency back in has been the biggest challenge.”
Despite the pressures that come with operating a restaurant, Hernandez explained that connecting with customers has made the experience worth it.
“Maria treats everybody like family. Being from Sicily, coming over to America, she’s all about family. The ingredients – you can buy those anywhere, but the love [is what sets Maria’s apart],” Hernandez said. “You come in, you feel like you’re at home or at your grandma’s house. That’s what I want to continue with, to make sure people come in and they feel welcome. Our customers, they’re our family.”
Maria’s Italian-American Deli is located at 22620 Lyons Avenue in Newhall, CA. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can view Maria’s menu at the link here.