August 10, by Nathaly Pesantez
Mario’s Restaurant, the famed Sunnyside institution that celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, will be closing its doors at the end of August.
The Italian restaurant, located at 43-04 47th Avenue, will serve its last patrons on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
Carlos and Lynn Chauca opened Mario’s Restaurant, named after Lynn’s late father, 31 years ago in February 1986. Carlos, who originally wanted to open a video rental store at the site but was dissuaded by his wife’s family, has prepared northern Italian dishes at the restaurant since then, while Lynn focused on the patrons in the dining room.
The restaurant, which went up for sale in February, was sold to a new owner who has plans to open a restaurant at the location. The details are not yet known.
Alexandria Palumbo, one of Carlos and Lynn’s daughters who worked at the restaurant while growing up in Sunnyside, said her parents felt it was the right decision to move on from the restaurant after more than three decades of rising before dawn, rushing to pick up deliveries, and dedicating lots of time and energy to the locale, an experience that was as satisfying as it was taxing.
“They just want to relax a little,” Palumbo said, noting that there is the slightest hint of apprehension at what is to come.
Carlos, 59, came to the United States from Ecuador when he was 18, and began working at restaurants, where he learned how to prepare Italian food. Lynn, who was raised in the Village, has her roots in Italy.
Although the restaurant is closing, Carlos and Lynn will still be engaged in other ventures around the neighborhood—Carlos will join Donovan’s Pub at 57-24 Roosevelt Avenue as a manager, while Lynn will help their daughter, Angela Cuervo, with her custom baking shop Making that Cake in Sunnyside.
Mario’s Restaurant was as important to the Chauca family as it is a recognizable Sunnyside locale.
“I’m two months older than the restaurant,” Palumbo said. “My whole life I’ve always known the restaurant. We celebrated our birthdays there, confirmations, my bridal shower—it has always been in our lives.”
Mario’s Restaurant will close its doors at 9:00 p.m. on its last day, and is only accepting cash until the closing date.
“On behalf of my family,” Palumbo said, “I would like to thank our loyal customers for the lasting friendships, laughs, and love, and for making the past 31 years so memorable. It has been a pleasure to serve you and an honor to be a part of your community for the last three decades.”