Anne Nause basically had to make a choice: her sister or her restaurant, and Sole Sapori came out on the losing end.
Nause closed the popular Italian restaurant in Mount Horeb June 15 after running it for more than 11 years.
"It's very difficult to make something run when you're trying to do everything," she said. "That's why I closed it. Not because I didn't love it."
The reason she bought the business in the first place is because she didn't want it to close.
That was in 2003. Nause had been a school principal for 12 years, in Madison and Middleton among other places, and was working on a Ph.D. in curriculum when she began filling in for her daughter, who was working at Sole Sapori as a server.
The work was fun and soon she began picking up shifts for other waitstaff. Then one night she heard Celina Vitale, who owned the restaurant for 17 years with her husband, Sam, on the phone talking to relatives in Italy and got the impression the couple was moving back to their native country.
Nause asked what was going to happen to the restaurant. Celina told her she was going to close it. She was done.
"Do you really make any money doing this?" Nause asked.
Celina confirmed that they did. And that's how Nause came about owning a restaurant.
"And it was fabulous," she said. "We took a huge hit during the recession just like most people did, but the final nail was when Sarah came to live with me."
Nause's sister, Sarah Nause, 53, is cognitively disabled and had been living in an institution in Illinois, where she was on 15 medications and couldn't get out of a chair on her own.
Basically, things were going from bad to worse. Nause felt like she had to step in and do something. And in the past two years she's managed to turn the whole situation around. Sarah is now down to three medications and is working full time.
When Sarah came to live with her there was less time for the restaurant and chefs would come and go. She began paying people to run the restaurant.
"The food was still good and everything, but the running of it part was really suffering," Nause said.
Then a chef who she was hoping would go full time, took another job. She knew it would take two months to train somebody new and she just couldn't do it anymore.
"Something had to go and my sister needs me," Nause said. "You have to make a choice. Neither choice was a choice I wanted to make, but I had to choose Sarah because she's a human being and she can't take care of herself."
Melissa Theisen, executive director of the Mount Horeb Area Chamber of Commerce, said Mount Horeb is going to miss one of its favorite restaurants.
"Anne did a phenomenal job cooking. She was a great cook and people loved her pizza and Italian cuisine," Theisen said.
David Vitale, who worked at his parents' restaurant through the years, was dismayed to hear that the restaurant had closed. "That's sad. It's really sad. I grew up there."
Meanwhile, Nause points out that while the restaurant at 209 E. Main St., is closed, nothing's been auctioned off yet.
"I've got to admit, I'm still hopeful that somebody will say, 'Wow, I want to make that restaurant work.'"