Naples Italian Restaurant in Bearden will be closing its doors after nearly half a century of serving the Knoxville community.
The announcement came suddenly Wednesday when the restaurant said April 24 will be their last day in business. 10News called the restaurant, and they confirmed Wednesday was, indeed, the restaurant's last day.
Customers packed into the restaurant Wednesday to somberly enjoy the final night.
"I'll miss the friendships I've made and all the memories I've had," longtime customer James Landreth said. "There's been a lot of proms, weddings, and reunions here. A lot of people hold this place special to their heart."
The Bearden staple was supposed to change hands when owners Bob and Becky Luper announced their plans to retire, but that plan to open under new ownership has fallen through.
"While we have created so many lifelong memories and thoroughly enjoyed our ownership and careers operating Naples, it is time for us to pass the torch on to another family to continue the Naples tradition," Bob Luper had said back in March.
Unfortunately, that plan didn't pan out. It remains to be seen if there's a glimmer of hope waiting to prevent the establishment from fading into Knoxville history.
Chuck Naples and Ray Ward originally opened the restaurant back in 1971. Bob's brother Steve Luper had been an accountant for the restaurant originally, which eventually the Lupers invested into it in 1981 and Bob and Becky assumed ownership.
"While we will miss the friendships and fellowship that we have shared over the years," Becky said.