One of the legendary names in Utica Italian cuisine is bidding farewell.  After 78 years in a business that started on Bleecker Street in Utica, Grimaldi's Luna Park and Grimaldi's Restaurant in Syracuse will be saying arrivederci.

The news came yesterday on the Grimaldi's Facebook page that the restaurant has been sold and new owners will be taking over at the end of June. "I was given the opportunity to continue with the Grimaldi legacy in 2005 and have had a wonderful career and experience in running the restaurant," said Rita Grimaldi on Facebook. "Our customers and friends and family have been our focus and in turn have shown us how much they love us at Grimaldi's. We take pride in knowing that all of our dedication and hard work has been noticed and appreciated."

Grimaldi's was first opened in 1943 by Fred and Rita Grimaldi. The chain of restaurants grew over the years in the Utica area, in Albany and in Syracuse. The original Grimaldi's in Utica closed in 2012.

"My Grandparents started out with Grimaldi's Restaurant in 1943 and have created excellence in food and service. I take with me such great memories of them. My Father who grew the business and it's great name to many establishments and accomplishments has guided me throughout my time here at Grimaldi's," said Rita, who has owned the Carrier Circle Grimaldi's with her brother Fred III since 2005.

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Over the years, celebrities from Frank Sinatra to to Dean Martin, Whitney Houston, Bill Murray, Phil Rizzuto, and so many others visited the restaurants for their classic "Utica style" Italian cuisine.

There were several offshoots of the restaurant over the years including Fred Grimaldi's Chop House (which opened on Seneca Turnpike back in the 90s), Alfredo's, and the Diplomat, which was run by Fred Jr.. In 1989, the Bleecker Street restaurant which took up two storefronts, was sold to the Castronovo family, who operated it until its closing in 2012. The restaurant and front facade signage still remains there in East Utica.

The Grimaldi's will continue to operate the restaurant on Carrier Circle until the end of June, when the new operators take over. According to the Facebook post, the restaurant was sold to a "local restaurateur who has been very successful in the area with all of their endeavors. They are very excited to take on a new location and create their own version of a unique restaurant that you will surely love. The owners will be transitioning slowly while keeping many of the same menu items you have come to love at Grimaldi's."

The new owners have retained the Grimaldi's current staff so there will be familiar faces inside the restaurant even after the transition. "We will be bringing back many of the old menu items and a few surprises in the month of June. Please come in and use your gift certificates," she said.

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