NILES - Alberini's Restaurant, a Trumbull County dining institution for more than 50 years, is closing its doors on Saturday.
''I am humbled by the love and support that people have shown over the years, and feel like they are a big family to me,'' said Richard ''Chook'' Alberini Jr., who continued the business that was started by his father, Richard Sr., in 1957.
Alberini did not want to go into specifics about why the restaurant was closing but said he wanted a change from the hours required for being a restaurant owner.
Tribune Chronicle file
Richard “Chook” Alberini Jr. is closing his restaurant, a fixture on “the Strip.”
''I'm not around my family enough. I don't spend enough time with my family,'' he said. ''I have a son who's 14 years old, and I'm missing too many sporting events.''
Alberini's started as a small pizza place on U.S. Route 422 at Mines Road. It opened at its current location at 1201 Youngstown Warren Road on Dec. 9, 1961, and it is the last of the original family-owned restaurants along Route 422 in Warren and Niles from when the dining / nightlife destination was known as ''The Strip.''
When the Abruzzi family sold Cafe 422 in Warren in 2005, Richard Alberini Sr. said, ''I feel bad about this for the simple reason all my friends are gone from this strip. The El Rio, Town and Country, Living Room - they all played a role in bringing people out there. That's what made The Strip famous. The Strip was it. Now, it brings a tear to my eye.''
Alberini's currently employees 40 people, and they were notified last week about the closing, Alberini said.
While the restaurant is closing, Alberini said he hopes to continue the association of the family name with food by selling its sauces and other products at the retail level.
''I'm talking to people about what's going to be the next venture to continue the Alberini tradition,'' he said.
The closing will not effect D'Vino, a separate Italian restaurant that opened in December in the former banquet room on the lower level of the complex. Alberini said D'Vino is a great restaurant and he strongly supports the venture.
Alberini's will remain open for regular business through Saturday, but there are no plans for any special events to commemorate its final week.
Alberini, who frequently sang and played guitar in the restaurant's lounge with his band, Chookie Unplugged, said he couldn't get his bandmates together on short notice for a final show there.