‘THIS BIRD HAS BEEN SET FREE’
ONEONTA – Joe Ruffino Jr. announced to his customers on his website today that, after 45 years of the “daily grind” of making pizza – since age 7 – and running a business in Upstate New York, he has closed Joe Ruffino’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 222 Main St.
“I have known for a while that I couldn’t maintain that work ethic forever,” he said. “No one is in the bullpen ready to relieve me … Now it’s time for my wife and I to move forward to a new beginning. It may seem like my wings have been clipped, but in reality this bird has been set free.”
The fate of Ruffino’s has been the talk of Main Street since the plate-glass windows appeared papered over a week ago. While the proprietor’s plans are unclear in his farewell note, it signals the end of a city culinary institution that has been a fixture since 1972 – 45 years.
The restaurant was founded by Joseph Ruffino Sr., a native of Sicily who emigrated to the U.S. and was drawn to Oneonta, where family members had previously settled by the hilly terrain that reminded him of his native land. The senior Ruffino passed away last November.