BY MICHAEL CAHILL
The Nanuet Restaurant, on Main Street in downtown Nanuet, was founded in 1952 and used to be located at the Nanuet Hotel a little further up Main Street. Founder and late owner Frank Delcia moved the restaurant to its current location in February of 1962, and they have been there ever since.
Driving down Main Street, it is hard to miss the iconic neon sign with the restaurant’s name. It may look a little old, but retro is coming back these days, says current owner Mary Chamberlain.
Chamberlain is Frank’s daughter. She owns and operates the restaurant with her business partner Timothy Arlt. If one word could sum up the Nanuet Restaurant, it would be family. “My father wanted to make a place where families could go,” she said.
The restaurant is not just family friendly, but also family owned and operated. All of Chamberlain’s siblings, cousins, and children have worked at the restaurant at some point. The business is a real family affair.
In 50 years nothing has really changed inside. Walking in is a bit like stepping into a time machine. Its old-fashioned windows and tables give the inside a cozy feeling along with the modern touches like a television and some arcade games. “We can’t change anything in here,” says Chamberlain, “People freak out when we do.”
Even the menu has not changed. Chamberlain smiles as she pulls out an old menu and points to a bottle of beer that used to cost only 70 cents. They even make the pizzas the way they did in 1952.
What is sure to catch your eye are the numerous hats with drawings and names on them hanging behind the bar. Frank was an accordion player and used to host sing-alongs at the restaurant. He would play old Italian songs on the accordion and patrons would wear the hats stored at the restaurant and sing along with him.
Now those hats are collected and sit behind the bar around a picture of founder himself.
With 50 years come many stories, some funny, some sad, some inspiring. The story of a former patron living in Florida stood out for Chamberlain. This patron was an older woman who was very sick. It was this woman’s last wish that she have Nanuet Restaurant pizza.
“That was a highlight for me, and that is what this restaurant is all about,” said Chamberlain.
The Nanuet Restaurant will officially be celebrating its 50th Anniversary this Saturday April 21 at 7:00 p.m. with accordion player Mike Siciliano playing old Italian songs just like Frank Delica used to. Then on Sunday April 22 at 5:00pm DJ Doo Wopp Al will be there playing music from years past.