John Abbracciamento, who works as the restaurant’s head chef, said on Sunday that he and his wife have decided it’s time for them to retire; both themselves and the restaurant.
“This is my father’s establishment,” Abbracciamento said. “It was established here in 1953 and basically we’ve been running it ever since. Dad passed on in 1999, but this has always been his place, his dream, his sacrifices.”
John and his brother Joseph have kept the place alive ever since.
“We kept it going and now it’s time,” he said “I’m turning 60 and that’s where we’re going with it.”
Joe Abbracciamento originally opened the doors to his restaurant in 1948, then located at Pitkin Avenue on Cross Bay Boulevard, before moving to the current location at 62-96 Woodhaven Boulevard in 1953.
Ten years after settling into the current location, the catering arm of the restaurant was established, and the Abbracciamento family has been serving up traditional American-Italian food ever since.
As one would expect from a traditional American-Italian restaurant that saw Queens through its heyday, the Abbracciamento restaurant has a lot of history, and its closing marks the end of an era.
“It was established in the 50s, and when Queens was Queens in the 60s and the 70s with high-powered net-worth people that lived in this area, they all came here,” said Abbracciamento. “From all the judges and senators to the president, they were here. The place has a very big affection for Geraldine Ferrarro, her family has always supported us through the years.”
Abbracciamento has dedicated his entire life to the restaurant, having worked in some capacity or other in the restaurant since the early 60s.
“My father lived up here in Middle Village, and he’d send me down here at 12 or 13 years old,” he recalled. “He’d give me the keys to the place and he’d tell me, clean everything up, make sure the place is ready and put that pizza oven on.
“Still to the day it scares the hell out of me,” Abbracciamento added. “That brick oven where you have to pull the damper and light the gas, and he always used to say don’t forget that you’re going to explode.”
While the future of the space, Abbracciamento said there will never be another restaurant there as long as he continues to own the property.
“It has been a nice run, and a lot of happiness,” he said. “Hopefully, we did our job for them and no other way could I say thank you very much for all of this.”