After they arrived here in the mid-1950s, Sannino opened a series of now-defunct pizzerias, including Jim's Pizzeria on Tejon, Paisan's Pizzeria on Colfax and Jim Sannino's Pizzeria on University. Young Jimmy got his first taste of the restaurant business at Jim Sannino's, but his father soon sold the spot in order to start another venture. In 1964, the Sannino family opened 3 Sons, an Italian restaurant in north Denver that was named for Jimmy and his two brothers, Tony and John, who also use the last name Sannino.
The family ran that restaurant for forty years, then finally sold the by-now-iconic 3 Sons in 2004. 3 Sons didn't last long under the new owners in its original location, which today is home to Ernie's; instead, they moved both the 3 Sons name and concept to Arvada. Meanwhile, Tony and John got out of the business for good, pursuing careers in real estate and antiques.
But Jimmy Sannino decided to keep the legacy alive, taking the original Sanno family recipes — "my brothers tweaked them in the later years at 3 Sons," he explains — and using them when he opened his own restaurant with his wife, Karen. From the start, they set out to create a neighborhood restaurant. "We've become a community gathering place," he says. "I like to call it an Italian Cheers!"