A well-known restaurant in Hamburg is closing this weekend after more than 30 years of business. The owner of Romanello's tells YNN's Ryan Whalen it's not something he wanted to do.
HAMBURG, N.Y. — The doors opened in 1980, and for a while, John Romanello says business was good.
"I was at the top. I went down to the bottom. I guess I just got too old for it."
The owner of Romanello's in Hamburg says after years of losing money, the taxes finally caught up with him.
"The fixed costs got too high for us to operate at a profit and we kept losing money. We kept putting money back in. My brothers helped me out many times and then you run out of money."
Faithful patrons filed in Friday, saying their goodbyes to the staff, the Romanello family, and the restaurant before it closes its doors for good.
"It's almost like losing a friend. Do you know what I mean? It kind of happens with time. Sooner or later, you've got to give up a business and stuff like that, but we all hate to see it fold," said Norman Ortwein.
"I know there are a lot of places around here that are nice, but we just enjoyed being here," said Al Bemiller.
But John Romanello does not feel much like celebrating with his friends.
"There's quite a few that come in and I really don't want to be around for all of them because it breaks me up."
Romanello says he knew the end was near this fall. The restaurant stopped booking parties and selling gift certificates.
"We didn't want to steal from people, even though the people with deposits feel like we stole from them and I really feel awful about it. I do. I'm hoping there's money left over so I can pay them. It's not a whole lot, but today a dollar's a whole lot to me."
The Romanello family first hit the Western New York restaurant scene when it opened the Roseland Restaurant in 1928, but John says he has no plans to get back into the business.
"I feel like I've lost everything, me personally."
John Romanello's brothers still run a sandwich shop in Buffalo and the Old Orchard Inn in East Aurora. Romanello gift-certificates will be honored at the Old Orchard for at least a little while after Saturday.