CLIFTON PARK -- After almost three decades of serving pizza and other homemade Italian foods, Ferretti's Pizza in Clifton Park is closing its doors.
Ferretti's, located on Ushers Road, has been a mainstay for celebrations, sports-watching and customers' weekly pizza binges. In 1988, after graduating from college, Vincent Ferretti opened the restaurant with his mother, Marie, and his father, also named Vincent.
The family agreed they would run the restaurant for 30 years, Ferretti said.
Vincent Ferretti's father died in 2008, but since the restaurant opened, it has been heavily staffed by family members -- or those who stay long term and become like family. Vincent Ferretti's daughter, Stephanie Bryans, worked in the restaurant during her teenage years and still contributes. She recently brought her two newborns to the restaurant for the first time.
"We always wanted to be a mom and pop place," Ferretti said of the restaurant's longevity. "I think that's how we made it."
Also contributing to the restaurant's success, he said, is the very consistent product customers have come to expect.
"The recipes haven't changed," he said. "The people making the recipes haven't changed."
The decision to close, he added, stems from his desire to spend time with his young grandchildren and to finally have a break from the 80-hour work weeks. He's looking forward to retiring, but over the past few months has come to realize just how deeply the restaurant touched people in the community, both through personal messages to himself and his family or through social media.
The restaurant, with a large painted sign out front boasting the family name, is recognizable and attracts locals. But it also brings in repeat visitors from as far away as Massachusetts, Delaware and Long Island.
When customers walk into the dining room, the first thing they often see is a Christmas tree permanently stationed by the door that Marie Ferretti, widely known as "grandma," decorates for each season. On Wednesday, it was covered in bright white lights, silver tinsel and American Flags for the Fourth of July.
"That tree is a big hit," she said.
Ferretti's has also been a place where many area youths landed their first jobs.
Ashley Lavigne and Olivia Matos, waitresses at the restaurant, said there isn't a day that goes by that they don't look forward to work, and they see the Ferrettis as family. Stephanie Bryans noted that the trust among the employees runs so deep she frequently can wordlessly communicate with Lavigne and Matos, and knows that the job will get done.
Lavigne and Matos said they have been taught by the Ferrettis to always be attentive and engaged with customers. It's commonplace, Lavigne said, for her to talk to customers about their days.
"We make sure the customers feel like family," she said.
Ferretti's is going out on top. After many years, the restaurant just won "best pizza" in Taste of Clifton Park and has received accolades for its food throughout the decades from local news outlets. After the years of work, Vincent Ferretti is proud to display the recent award.
"We went out with a bang. We won," Stephanie Bryans said.
But running the restaurant has not always been easy; her father is in the restaurant every day, she said.
"Running a business is a lot of ups and downs," Ferretti said. "You give up your life. You're married to the business."
The idea that his grandchildren won't grow up in the restaurant is a tough concept for Ferretti.
"That's one thing that bothers me the most; them never knowing that this is what grandpa did," he said.
But the family, and Clifton Park, has the restaurant for a few more days, and the Ferrettis will be busy working until the last minute.
"There's always a Ferretti here," he said.
Saturday is the restaurant's final day of business.