The longstanding Italian restaurant plans to add four residential units atop its storefront at the corner of Haddon and Harvard Avenues.
By Matt Skoufalos | September 6, 2023
For nearly two decades, Sapori Trattoria Italiana has made its home at the corner of Haddon and Harvard Avenues in downtown Collingswood.
Now, just a few months ahead of his restaurant’s 20th anniversary there, chef-owner Franco Lombardo plans to make the property at 601 Haddon Avenue his home address as well.
In August, the Collingswood Planning Board approved amendments to local redevelopment plans that would allow Lombardo to add a second story of residential units there.
At the August and September meetings of the borough municipal government, those measures were codified by resolution, freeing up Lombardo to present his specific proposal for the property at an upcoming meeting of the borough planning board.
In short, he hopes to add a bi-level unit for himself and his family, plus three other rental apartments, and a permanent roof on his outdoor dining patio. If the forthcoming presentation is approved, Lombardo believes he could be moved in within eight months to a year.
For the chef, who transitioned from Collingswood to Medford Lakes years ago, the proposal represents a homecoming to the town where he established his business.
“I was contemplating buying a house in Collingswood, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute, it wouldn’t be so bad to work from home like everybody else does,'” Lombardo said, “‘except my option is to bring home to work.'”
If the plans are approved, Lombardo and his tenants will enjoy the benefits of mixed-use residence in the borough downtown business district, which offers proximity to shopping, dining, and local events.
“The whole concept of living above the store, it was big in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and now it’s coming back,” he said.
The chef loves “the idea of having a downtown where residential and commercial come together.
“The freedom of coming down and walking down to the coffee shop to meet somebody is priceless to me,” Lombardo said.
More than anything, eliminating his commute to Medford will restore an hour to Lombardo’s day, which is time he can dedicate to work, recreation, or just immersing himself back in the rhythms of the neighborhood.
“I always said I live in town, I just sleep in Medford,” Lombardo said.
If the timing works out, the chef hopes to have the green light for his redevelopment plans in place ahead of Sapori’s 20th anniversary this November. After 19 years in the borough, Lombardo is pleased to report that business in town is still good.
“Collingswood’s always been a destination,” he said.
Soon enough it could be his home again as well.
Stick with NJ Pen for updates.
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.