Jun. 20, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
One of Whitestone’s oldest restaurants, The Clinton, announced that it will be shutting its doors on June 25. Since opening in 1939, The Clinton has been operated by three generations of the Babich family over the years.
“It is with great and profound sadness, bittersweet joy and an air of celebration, that we announce the closing of our restaurant,” the restaurant owners said in a statement. “We’ve had an incredible run spanning four generations from 1939 until the present. We are honored that we were chosen to have been a part of so many of our customers’ celebrations. We cherish them all. These memories will stay bright in our minds and the love for our customers will stay warm in our hearts forever.”
In addition to expressing gratitude to their loyal customers throughout the restaurant’s life, The Clinton owners also showed its appreciation for the staff that has helped to keep it running all this time. While the restaurant industry can often be stressful and chaotic, these workers were often able to endure through teamwork while bonding with each other, according to the owners.
Located at 9-17 Clintonville St., the roots of the building traces even further beyond 1939. It was first constructed in 1901. During Prohibition, it housed a speakeasy saloon. The building is one of Whitestone’s oldest commercial sites.
In the wake of the restaurant announcing its closure, several community members expressed their sadness at seeing such a staple shut down.
“My thoughts are that the family has given four generations of themselves to serving amazing food and memories to the community and they have earned the right to step back and enjoy their lives,” Queens resident Geri Murphy Cottrell said. “I will miss them terribly, as it’s a place I went to with my parents and took my children. I wish them and their staff every happiness.”
“We had a lot of family events there in my teens through late 20s,” Queens resident James LaManna said. “My dad loved their veal parmesan for how tender it was. I will miss it because it made me think of him.”
“I grew up in Whitestone. The Clinton was the go-to spot for all of my family events and at least once a month we would walk there for dinner,” former Whitestone resident Devon O’Connor said. “It’s sad to see this staple of Whitestone closing down after over 80 years of serving the community. Best wishes to the Babich family and now I have to find a new spot to eat when I come back to visit Whitestone.”
This isn’t the only Whitestone community staple to close down recently. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Whitestone Lanes bowling alley is being redeveloped into mixed-affordability housing.
The restaurant is currently owned by Bob and Ray Babich and Debbie Dunham. The three siblings are the grandchildren of the original owners, John and Jane Bubolich, who came to the United States from Istria, then part of Italy and now part of Croatia. John and Jane would pass ownership along to their children, John and Judy, along with Judy’s husband Ray. It is Judy and Ray’s children who currently own and operate the restaurant.