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LAST COURSE: Patrons say goodbye to Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Rosanne Aliperti celebrated one wedding and 23 birthdays at Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant.

And 84-year-old Nathan Boland sometimes made the trip twice a day, rain or shine, for a good chicken Parmesan.

Thousands of diners like them left with full stomachs and empty hearts Sunday on the beloved Italian restaurant’s last day in business.

“It was like one big family here. It’s a shame,” said Maspeth regular MaryAnn Papavero. “It’s very depressing to think this is their last day when it was such a great institution.”

The neighborhood fixture at 62-96 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park served hungry diners from across the city and Long Island for nearly 70 years. It opened in 1948 under Joe Abbracciamento and was later taken over by his sons, John and Joe Jr.

But after working in the restaurant since they were teenagers, the brothers plan to retire.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling, seeing the thousands of people who showed up today,” John, 60, said. “It’s a tribute to my father and my family, and it will be an everlasting memory.”

The decision to close was heartbreaking until the last hour, said his wife, Marie, after embracing customers — some who had grown into close friends.

“It’s very emotional for us,” said Marie, holding back tears. “We really don’t want to say goodbye to anyone. It’s going to be very hard to leave the people.”

People like Aliperti, 45, who walked into the restaurant on her wedding day on April 7, 1990 and essentially never left.

“I’ve spent every special day here — my wedding, every birthday, bridal showers, every anniversary,” said Aliperti, while wiping away tears. “They’re a part of our lives. I’ve had every beautiful moment here.”

The last day was also bittersweet for 86-year-old Mary Schmalenberger, who associates decades of happy memories with the longstanding corner eatery.

The senior has trouble walking and had not left the house in months, but made the trip from Middle Village to say goodbye.

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” she said. “There will never be another Abbracciamento.”

 

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