By Keith Gushard

Meadville Tribune

The former Valenti’s Restaurant on Chestnut Street in downtown Meadville will get a new lease on life as a Mexican-style eatery.

Anthony Marco Melchor, owner of Compadres Mexican restaurants, said he plans to open a second Meadville-area location by Dec. 1 at the latest.

“Business has been so busy, I think a second restaurant will do really well,” said Melchor, who has owned Compadres in Vernon Township for four years.

The downtown Meadville location at 249-251 Chestnut St. will be Melchor’s fifth Compadres.

He started the restaurant company in Ashtabula, Ohio, five years ago. There are locations in Ashtabula and Grove City and Butler in Pennsylvania. There was a location in Erie, but it was closed by Melchor.

“I had been thinking about it for the past year,” he said of a second Meadville-area location. “But I had never found a big enough building.”

Melchor said he is leasing the Chestnut Street building from John LaBruzzo of Meadville. LaBruzzo confirmed he is in the process of buying the building from the Gotto family that had owned Valenti’s.

“I’ll lease before I buy,” Melchor said of possibly buying the building. “If it goes well, we’ll buy it.”

Melchor said he currently is remodeling the restaurant at his expense.

It will have the same menu as the Vernon Township location, he said. Melchor is in the process of obtaining a liquor license for the property.

He employs nine at the Vernon Township location and expects to have at least six workers at the new downtown location.

Valenti’s Restaurant, 249-251 Chestnut St., closed its doors July 14 after 14 years in business.

Ellena Gotto, who had operated Valenti’s during its last 12 months, declined comment to the Tribune.

Valenti’s owner Nancy Gotto, Ellena Gotto’s mother, died April 1 this year. Valenti’s had opened in 1993.

In July 2006, Ellena Gotto agreed to take over the downtown Meadville restaurant until a buyer could be found. Valenti’s had been on the market since 2005, but there were no takers on the $225,000 price for the building and family-style Italian restaurant.

Nancy Gotto and her husband, Frank, who passed away in 1997, owned area restaurants dating back to the early 1960s, including Gotto’s on Route 322 and Gotto’s Pizza in the Downtown Mall. Nancy Gotto later opened Villa Valenti, which she sold a few years ago and is now Peppercorn and Vine.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at

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