CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — It’s the last of its kind.
There used to be more than 800 Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips restaurants across the country. Now only one free-standing location is left, in Cuyahoga Falls.
Last summer during a staffing shortage, owner Ben Vittoria decided to close on Sundays. This Lenten season the restaurant reopened to the after-church crowd and business is booming.
This was supposed to be a short-term gig for Vittoria.
“I started in 1977, what I thought would be a six-month stint,” he said. He was trying to make some money for graduate school. 45 years later, he’s the owner of the last Arthur Treacher’s in America.
“Every time I was ready to leave, I got promoted,” Vittoria said. At one point he owned 16 of the restaurants. One by one they all shut down, down to the last. And it’s drawing customers from across the country to Cuyahoga Falls.
“There’s a nostalgic appeal to Arthur Treacher’s,” he said. “A lot of the people you see today were introduced to Arthur Treacher’s from their parents or grandparents. The restaurant has become a family tradition."
Customer Susan Beck said her brother worked there in the 1980s. “We were big eaters even before he got the job,” she said. “He grew up eating their fish, and my dad loved the chicken!”
Vittoria has become part of that family, often seen chatting up his regulars in the dining room. Regulars who may not be ready to let him go, even if he has his eyes on the horizon.
They tell him “That I should not retire,” he said. “Although I tell them that I want to someday.” But regulars need not worry yet. Vittoria has no plans to pack it up anytime soon.
“This has been a pleasant and at times bittersweet voyage for me, but it is one that I would like to continue,” he said.
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