LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- After nearly 60 years, an iconic restaurant in Lakewood is closing its doors.
Dino's Italian Food will officially close September 30, leaving 45 employees — some who've been there for decades — without a job.
The Italian eatery, located on West Colfax near the intersection of Kipling St., has been a neighborhood fixture since 1961.
"They had their first date here. They brought their babies here from the hospital," owner Judy Duren told Denver7 Monday.
After six decades of serving up homemade pizza, pasta and lasagna, the iconic Lakewood landmark is shutting its doors.
Duren has worked at the restaurant since she was 9 years old. She says her father, Dino DiPaolo, started the business to serve up Italian food to his neighbors.
"He knew their names, their kid's names, what they did, who was sick," she said.
Dino passed away in 2012, and Duren took over. A major hail storm in 2017 damaged the building. She says since then, maintenance costs, aging equipment and rising property taxes have forced her out of business.
"The closing of the restaurant for a lot of people will be the final part of Dino passing away" she said.
When Duren announced Dino's closing, loyal customers like John Bradish immediately stopped by.
"It's the end of an era. I've been coming here for 40 years. It gets tougher as we age and you see things that you've known for decades closing. It's a reminder that life is short and you need to make the most of it while you can," Bradish said.
Nora Contreras first came to Dino's as a 5-year-old girl. She brought her family to say good-bye.
"Now I've got to find a new place and there's no place like this place," said Contreras.
Duren has had generous offers to help build a new Dino's, but she says it wouldn't be the same.
She's not sure what she'll do next, but she says she'll always treasure the special people who helped make Dino's her home.
"Thank you for coming all these years. If I could have fixed it I would have. I promise i would have fixed it if I could have," said Duren.