Joseph Tuzzio began working for his parents at age 10 at their restaurant Tuzzio’s Italian Cuisine on Westwood Avenue in Long Branch.
By ED SALVAS
When Joseph Tuzzio closes the door at Tuzzio’s Italian Cuisine after dinner on Sun., Dec. 18 it will mark the end of one of the area’s oldest dining establishments.
The Long Branch business has been sold to developers and the sale will close officially Jan. 4.
“They get the land and the building, but not the name,” Tuzzio said.
He did not name the buyers but said they are developers and also hinted that the Tuzzio name could return in some form in the future.
After the closing, Tuzzio and his wife JoAnn will head south to Naples, Florida where they’ve had a home for several years. Married for 33 years, they plan to spend six months in Florida and six months in New Jersey at their home in Jackson Township. Their two sons, Joseph and James, have careers of their own and Tuzzio said “I pushed them not to get into the business.”
Tuzzio, 67, said simply “it’s time” when asked why he’s closing the family-owned business that’s been in his family since 1966 when his parents, Joseph and Margaret Tuzzio, took over the Silver Dollar Bar at 224 Westwood Ave. The name was changed to Tuzzio’s Italian Cuisine in 1975 when their son took over.
It’s also not the same Long Branch where Tuzzio’s opened 47 years ago. He said the town is changing.
“Development is out of control, prices are through the roof,” he said.
He said he’s worried about the future of his hometown.
When Joe Tuzzio took over the restaurant in 1975, he also established Tuzzio’s Catering which has been providing the same Tuzzio’s cuisine for private parties, weddings, birthdays, tailgating and corporate events. Catering now accounts for 40 percent of the business.
As he prepares to leave the building where he’s worked since the age of 10, Tuzzio said he’s working to see that his key loyal employees land on their feet. He’s met a lot of nice people and made many friends and said the city has been good to him. He calls the closing of Tuzzio”s Italian Cuisine “bitter-sweet, but mostly sweet.”