Ever since 1940, Al's Seafood has been a staple of Phoenicia's Main Street, but the restaurant will be turning off the lights for good after one last supper and celebration on Monday. Our John Wagner has the story.
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PHOENICIA, N.Y. -- Paul Pettinato, 61, began working at his dads Al's Seafood Restaurant back when he was ten years old. He never looked back and never stopped, but a downturn in the Catskill tourism and gaming economy, combined with a go go go generation.
"People used to go out to dine, now they just go out to eat," explained Paul Pettinato, the owner of Al's Seafood Restaurant. "Times have changed a lot and you know the sit down family restaurant is I think soon to be a thing of the past."
For over seventy years Al's Seafood provided everything you can't get at a McDonalds--serving up seafood and steak platters and quite a few memories for all the locals--many regulars grabbing dinner hundreds or thousands of times at Al's since the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
"We've been coming many years and we've never had a bad plate yet, so it's always been good," said Gil Arlands, a customer since the 1960s.
"In some way, shape, or form it played you know a big part in a lot of people's lives," said Gary Pettinato, the grandson of Al and the son of current owner Paul.
Like Emily Osbourne, an 80-plus-year-old who worked for Al back in the 40s, still happy to help out in the kitchen.
"All those years it's like home, like home," said Osbourne. "Everybody in town hung out here. We were just like one big family."
"We've just had so many family events and family reunions," said Rita Landy, daughter of Al and sister of Paul. "It's been a huge happy place for all of us, for, forever."
The family says after 70 years, they still aren't sick of seafood, but Monday's the last day they'll be able to get it here. And if you want to visit, you better make a reservation.
"A gentleman down the street is buying my restaurant. He owns three other ones," said Paul. "He can work a little harder and I'll go take it a little easier."
Paul says it's up to the new owner if he wants to stick with seafood or change the name, but Paul is heading down to Florida where he'll never be far from a little shrimp scampi.
"I've got a little dog and we're going to walk on the doggy beaches," continued Paul, "and sit in the sun, and watch everyone else rush."