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A Tribute to Jim Granzella

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The founder of the Northern California Landmark, Granzella’s passed away on October 1, 2013 with his family at his side. Jim Granzella was the driving force of Granzella’s in Williams, California.

A unique mix of Restaurant, Deli, Sports Lounge, Bakery, Gourmet Food Shop, Gift Shop and motel makes it an emporium for travelers along interstate 5.

“Jim’s passing will leave a huge hole in our heart, as well as our community,” said Williams Mayor, Pat Ash, “With hard work, conviction, and the help and support of his family, he has helped put Williams on the map.”

Jim’s story began in 1928. Born to Carlo and Cecilia Granzella of San Francisco, Jim spent most of his childhood in Richmond, California.

Jim met his wife Beverly when he was just 19-years young. The couple took residence in Concord, California where they opened a chain of dairy stores.

Jim and his wife Beverly sought the opportunity to buy a local delicatessen in Williams, California from a friend Frank Ruggieri – thus beginning his legacy.

Since opening his doors in 1976, in the previous Diamond National Lumber Company building, Granzella grew his business with the support of his family. Known for its delicatessen of fine meats, cheeses, and delicious sandwiches, Granzella’s expanded in 1984. Jim, his son-in-law and daughters added a family-style restaurant of fine American and Italian Cuisine and a pizza parlor.

Famous for its fresh homemade pizzas, Granzella Later added an old-fashioned ice-cream shop, and bakery in 1993.

As family owned company, Jim was proud to include his children in his venture as his daughters Denise McCarty, Linda Garcia and Tami Jenkins joined him in his legacy.

Jim loved his family and he treasured his business.

Working nearly seven days a week, Jim often could be found working behind the deli counter or greeting guests in the restaurant.

Jim was an avid supporter of many local events and helped with several local charities.

“He was a loyal supporter of local law enforcement in addition to the Williams Fire Department,” added Ash.

For the past 16 years, Jim hosted its annual Bagna Càuda event benefiting the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation.

The 11-99 Foundation was founded to support the families of CHP officers killed in the line of duty, or severely, offering aid and scholarships.

“Jim Granzella and his Family have donated over the years to the 11-99 foundation,” said Officer Kristen Murphy, Public Relations Officer for the Williams CHP, “Although Jim did not have family working for the CHP, he continued to donate because he had a high respect for the organization.”

“He will be greatly missed but never forgotten by the community,” added Murphy.

In 2012, the CHP 11-99 Foundation recognized Jim for his years of fund-raising efforts.

“How many people can you stack into a big tent? More than 400 when Jim Granzella is the host,” said a representative from the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation, “Year after year, Jim Granzella hosts an incredible luncheon, auction, and raffle. He always does it with a huge smile that is only out done by the size of his big heart. Jimmy and his family love all the men and women of the CHP. Thank you Jimmy!”

“It was a very emotional,” said Tootie Hacket, a Granzella’s Employee, “there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

Jim has provided a wonderful opportunity for many Colusa County young adults over the last several decades working at the establishment.

“Through his businesses he has contributed millions to our tax revenues and provided jobs for so many.” Ash added.

This reporter was one of the many high school students who worked for the Granzella family.

“Jim Granzella will be dearly missed,” said Lloyd Green Jr., publisher of the Williams Pioneer Review, “I learned quite a bit from Mr. Granzella, and I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to have worked for him.”

As a multiple cancer survivor, Jim battled testicular cancer, then later battled breast cancer. In just the last year, he was diagnosed with cancer of the blood.

Jim became a driving force in local Breast Cancer Awareness. For the last seven years, Jim has hosted the ‘Bagna Càudette’ where funds benefit the breast cancer organization ‘Casting for recovery’. Casting for Recovery is an organization that offers healing retreats and tools for women to overcome the challenge of Breast Cancer. Jim was also a supporter of the local Colusa County Breast Cancer Fund.

As one of Colusa County’s largest employers, Granzella’s employs over 175 employees. In 2007, a devastating fire brought 31 years of hard work and dedication to ashes almost ending his legacy, but that didn’t stop Jim.

“We will rebuild,” said Jim Granzella as he stood among the charred debris in 2007, “We have to get our employees back to work.”

Rebuild they did.

In record breaking ten months, a 10,000 square foot building was built slightly larger than its predecessor with all of the conveyance of modern technology – while inheriting the rustic charm of its previous existence.

Jim gives credit the successful reconstruction to his Grandson Dino, who oversaw the project from the beginning to the end.

“Dino, my grandson worked with the architect and contractors on making sure that the building still had the same feel,” said Jim Granzella in an interview with the Williams Pioneer Review in 2011, “He did an excellent Job.”

Amongst the tragedy, just six days after the fire. Jim held a ‘appreciation’ barbeque for all of the firefighters and emergency personnel who battled the blaze. Although the restaurant, deli and bakery were fully destroyed, the sports lounge and invaluable sports and taxidermy memorabilia were saved by the help of these brave men and women.

“I will miss our chance meetings at the bank and the post office; he always greeted with ‘Hi honey, how are you?’”, said Ash, “On behalf of the City of Williams, I offer my sincerest condolences to the family and his family of employees.”

Jim is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Beverly Granzella; his three daughters, Denice McCarty (Bill), Linda Garcia (Randy), Tami Jenkins (Gary); and a sister Evelyn Knight. In addition to his beloved grandchildren, Stacie, Dino, Angela, Daniel, Jessica, Gina and Tiffany, he leaves behind seven great grandchildren, Joshua, Kendall, Grace, Bailey, Hayden, Bella and Alaina, as well as many nieces, nephews and other family members.

He was preceded in death by his brothers Richard Granzella and Albert Granzella.

The Visitation was held at McNary-Moore Funeral Chapel on Tuesday, October 8th. A Funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Arbuckle on October 9th.

Burial will follow at the Williams Cemetery

Memorial contributions may be made in Jim’s name to the: Williams Fire Department – P.O. Box 755, Williams, CA 95987 or CHP 11-99 Foundation – 2244 North State Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92831.

 

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