Maria's, Rockford's oldest Italian restaurant set to close - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Maria's, Rockford's oldest Italian restaurant set to close its doors

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

After 90 years in business, a restaurant responsible for serving meals to generations of Rockfordians is shutting down.

For nine decades, Maria's has helped people, like Ron Cropp, celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings, and funerals.

"For the last 50, 55 years we've been going there steady," says Cropp

Like so many, Cropp passed that tradition down to his children and grandchildren.

"My daughter lives in Portland, Oregon with the 2 grandkids and every time the family comes to town we have to go to Maria's," says Cropp.

Another frequent Maria's customer, Ike Linquist, says, "I went there as a young boy with my brother, and my brother is a little older that I am, and that was the first place he ever had pizza."

He says one of the things he'll miss the most, is the leftovers.

"If you left Maria's hungry, it was your own fault, because you had real good portions there. I'll say that," says Linquist.

Maria's originally opened in the building across the street, as a grocery store. The family had to sell it during the great depression, and moved into the location we know today.

On the outside of the building, posted in each window is a letter to the Rockford community thanking everyone for their years of support. It reads, 'We will truly miss serving you. Remember the good times at Maria's and may they always make you smile and bring you happiness.'

Joe Cason owns the restaurant with his brother. Together they've centered their whole lives around the family business.

"So we just decided, my brother and myself, it was time. We've been doing it for quite awhile here and we're not getting any younger, so we don't know if it's the right time or the wrong time, but this is the time, I guess."

He says he's not sure what his future plans are after the restaurant closes, but he hopes to spend some more time with his family.

Maria's last day in business is December 31st. Joe says the restaurant is still taking reservations, and will serve its famous steaks and pastas up until then.

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