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Ciao, Luigi's Of Jackson Heights – QNS.com

Ciao, Luigi’s Of Jackson Heights

Family, friends and loyal customers who became part of an extended family packed Luigi’s Italian Restaurant in Jackson Heights on Sunday, as the restaurant, which has become a fixture in the neighborhood for 47 years, closed its doors for the final time.
Nobody wanted to say goodbye to the restaurant as customers, staff and the owners sipped champagne and reminisced until almost 2 a.m. about all the memories that have taken place over the years.
“The people there and the outpouring of love was phenomenal,” said Josephine Napolitano, whose parents opened the restaurant 47 years ago.
Josephine has helped her mother, Michelina Napolitano, run the restaurant since her father’s death in 1983.
“The people couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive — it was a very special relationship,” Josephine said.
The restaurant is being forced to close because the landlords of the building are doubling the rent from $8,000 to $16,000, making it impossible for the restaurant to continue to operate according to Napolitano.
“Right now, it’s just the heartache I remember,” Napolitano said.
Luigi’s is most well-known for their family-orientated environment and special relationships with their customers.
Napolitano said that one customer had been in the restaurant for 50 straight days, and she believes that the family knew almost 90 percent of their customers by name.
“We considered our customers part of our family, and that’s how they viewed us,” Napolitano said.
Even though Luigi’s had to close its doors last Sunday night, the Napolitano’s hope that it will not be for too long.
“As soon as we find a location that is suitable, we would like to re-open,” Napolitano said.
They are not doing it alone either. The family is currently receiving phone calls and letters from customers and friends with possible locations for the restaurant to re-open.
Other customers gave the family their phone numbers the last time they were in the restaurant and told the family to call them as soon as they found a new location for the restaurant.
But, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone because, as Napolitano said, “it has always been a family affair” at Luigi’s.
pdavis@queenscourier.com

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