There is something magical about walking through the doors of Lombardo’s in Randolph. The joy and happiness of countless weddings and conferences has permeated this historic function facility’s walls, as has the spirit of its founder, the late Sal Lombardo.
This year, Lombardo’s celebrates its 50th anniversary in grand style, with events throughout the whole year that will culminate in a grand fundraiser gala in November.
Founded in East Boston in 1963, Lombardo’s Function Facility is currently owned and operated by the third and fourth generation of the family. Before opening Lombardo’s, Sal and his brother Paul grew up working alongside their Sicilian-born parents Vincenzo and Antonietta at the family-owned Liberty Markets.
“They were the classic entrepreneurs,” says current CEO Vincent Lombardo of his father Sal and uncle Paul. “Friends and clients would ask them about opening a function hall, so they decided to turn an old bowling alley they had above the East Boston store into the original Lombardo’s.”
The function facility was an instant success. In the 1970s, Sal bought out his brother’s share in the business and started looking for new opportunities in the South Shore, where he lived alongside his wife Mabel and four children: Paula, Vincent, Dennis and Nina. In 1983, Sal bought the current Lombardo’s Function Facility, turning it into another big hit.
“I remember it well,” says Chief Administrative Officer Paula Lombardo. “It was January 23, and one month later we were already hosting a 1,000-person event.” Along with the function facility, the family also bought The Sanctuary Nightclub behind the building, changing into Vincent’s Nightclub.
Around the same time, Sal earned a degree in business after 12 years of night classes. “After working so many hours he would go to class and work even harder towards getting his degree,” says Mabel, the family matriarch.
In the 1980s, the family started phasing out of the grocery store business to focus exclusively on its function halls. All four of Sal’s children went into the business at one point or another, and three are still actively involved.
“I always thought it would be a temporary job,” says Paula Lombardo, “but after some time I found myself fitting in just perfectly.” The same happened to her brother Dennis, the company’s chief financial officer, and members of the fourth generation that recently joined the family business.
Francesca Lombardo, Vincent’s daughter, has taken up the creative marketing director position, while her cousins David and Jessica, both Dennis’s children, have assumed the roles of general manager and financial administrator, respectively.
“We grew up a mile down from Lombardo’s, but we never really talked about work at home,” recalls Francesca.
“I also never worked here, except during our annual Thanksgiving luncheon, where we serve those in need with a free meal — a tradition we proudly continue today.” After a temporary stint in finance, she ended up fitting right in the family business. As did David, who joined Lombardo’s after a five-year experience working for another company in the restaurant business.
“My father always talked to me about the possibility of working at Lombardo’s,” he says, “and it has been a great fit. I look forward to working towards achieving our 100th anniversary!”
In 2000, the family closed its East Boston location and sold Liberty Markets. More recently, in 2011, Lombardo’s underwent a six-month renovation, including new décor, furniture and LED lighting systems, while Vincent’s Nightclub updated their interior with a renovated VIP Lounge in 2012.
After 50 years, the family tradition is stronger than ever, thanks to the hard-working spirit of Sal Lombardo and his family.