SOUTHINGTON — The owner of Friends Cafe said Wednesday the popular bar and restaurant would close its doors this Sunday.
Friends has been open for 13 years on North Liberty Street offering food, drinks and live entertainment downtown. But owner Al Ricciardone has been in the restaurant business in town for more than 51 years and is ready to slow down.
"Since Covid, it's been impossible to keep employees at the front of the house," Ricciardone said. "I lost a couple of key employees last week and decided to retire."
Ricciardone said he is in talks with a potential new owner who wants to operate the business the same way and keep the name "for now."
The new owner is expected to reopen the doors next month pending town and state permit approvals.
"We have a customer base," he said. "All they have to do is keep the customers happy."
Riccardone said he's at the restaurant seven days a week and has missed milestones within his own family.
"I want to enjoy my grandson," he said. "I want to enjoy the next generation."
Friends is holding a keg clearing celebration with specials on draft beers and food specials, according to its Facebook page.