Saying Goodbye: Albanese’s Roadhouse Closes Doors March 31 | Waukesha Co. Business news

WAUKESHA — Albanese’s Roadhouse, 2301 W. Bluemound Road, is a family-filled place that has been a home to many for the past 40 years. Community members are shedding tears and saying goodbye as the longtime restaurant officially closes its doors on March 31.

Dominic Albanese opened the family restaurant in September 1982. For many years he was in the private club business at Western Racquet Club in Elm Grove and Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in Wauwatosa. He started over in the 50s when he decided to open the restaurant.

Dominic approached 15 members at the Blue Mound Country Club and asked for their help. They all hit it off and he was able to open the business.

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“My dad worked hard. He was here day and night, and my mom made sauce, meatballs and lasagna,” said Joe Albanese, Dominic’s son and current owner of the restaurant. “I was 18 (at the time), so I was just out of high school. I started with my dad and I’ve been here for 40 years. It has always been in our family.”

Joe took over ownership around 2007 and Dominic died last June at the age of 91. Now, after 40 years, the family-owned restaurant will say goodbye to the community.

“It’s very emotional, but it’s a perfect opportunity for my family. It’s been a great ride,” said Joe Albanese, who said he now wants to enjoy time with his family and possibly take a part-time job.

A Jilly’s Car Wash is now slated to take over the Albanese site.

40 years ago, Joe met people at Albanese who were about to have children. These kids are now 39 years old and have been to Albanese’s for their proms, homecomings, communions and more.

“I never say customers. It’s all family. I’ve been so blessed and lucky,” Joe said. “I’ve said many times, I’m sure there are more successful restaurants, but those places would love to have it family we have here.”

Mark Ziegler started going to Albanese in the late 80’s and once he started going, he never stopped.

“People were just always really friendly. It was an easy laugh. When you go out after a week’s work, you look for a place you can go in and people know who you are. It was a really nice place to go because you knew the owners and they treated you well. They treated you right. The one thing about Joe and Dom is that they were always very service oriented,” Ziegler said.

The restaurant has been a part of Ziegler’s life for the past 30 years. He has had memories of petanque, Friday fish and he has developed relationships and friendships with so many over the years.

“These little family-owned restaurants are disappearing, and it’s a real shame because there’s an atmosphere and there’s something about them,” Ziegler said. “The Albanians is just a great place, a really fun place to go, and it’s just hard to see it go.”

Sherry and Dave Petersen go back a long way with the family-owned business. Sherry’s parents were good friends with Dominic and his wife, and Sherry’s father was one of the investors who helped get Albanese off the ground.

“They were so practical and always present, which made them so unique compared to some restaurants today,” Sherry Petersen said. “You always felt like you were at home. They always treated everyone like family and they appreciated you coming in.”

Sherry and Dave have similar memories to Ziegler of playing bocce and attending Friday fish fries almost every week. Since hearing about the closing of Albanese’s, the two have made it a point to visit as much as they can, ordering pizzas from the restaurant.

“Joey too, this was his life and he worked so hard and he deserves to have an opportunity to do something else,” Dave Petersen said. “So we’re really happy for him, but it’s also really sad.”

Sherri Camacho and Kim Johns have had many memories over the past four decades at Albanese’s, including luncheons, funerals, dinners, drinks, Christmas gatherings, birthday parties, showers, graduation parties and more.

“Both my family and friends can’t thank them enough for all the memories we’ve made and the friendships we’ve built,” Camacho and Johns said. “The good times we’ve had at Albanese’s have gotten us through the tough times. Albanese’s was our Cheers and we have so many memories that will keep us going after the doors close one last time.”

Rick Martino opened his business, Window Concepts, right next door to Albanese’s a year after the restaurant opened. Being Italian himself, he gravitated towards the restaurant and got to know the whole family very well.

“For me, it’s about family, and that’s what Albanese is to a lot of us,” Martino said.

For many, the closing of the restaurant is more than a simple goodbye. It closes a chapter of years of memories, family and close relationships that have since developed. But those memories will live on with the many people who have walked through the doors and found a family and a home they never expected.