Bertucci's closes Darien location without warning

DARIEN — After years on the Post Road, Italian chain restaurant Bertucci’s has suddenly closed its Darien location.

No explanation was given for the restaurant’s closure. The only announcements came from a pre-recorded phone message and an easy-to-miss paper sign taped to the side door — not the main entrance — thanking guests for “all the years.”

Sisters Maria and Melissa Lopez said they wished the restaurant had provided a little more warning of the closure when they pulled into the empty parking lot Friday afternoon with family members from Mexico visiting them in town.

“We were just trying to get a nice lunch and go shopping,” Maria Lopez said. 

"I'll live, but it's unexpected," Melissa Lopez added.

The shuttering was so abrupt that several of the neighboring business owners said they were unaware the restaurant had closed. 

Darien Car Clinic owner Tony Abbruzzese said he only found out the restaurant was closed when he spotted moving trucks emptying the building — which is across the street from the car wash —  several days ago.

The once-busy restaurant never seemed to fully recover after the pandemic, Abbruzzese said, with what he described as only limited crowds on Friday and Saturday evenings. 

Abbruzzese said he used to go to Bertucci’s every few months for their cauliflower crust pizza. The last time he went in May, he said the staff seemed to be in short supply and overwhelmed. 

“I’m surprised it lasted this long,” he said. “It kind of got lost back there.”

The Massachusetts-based company struggled financially before the pandemic, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018 and closing 15 of its locations, including three in Connecticut.

In March 2021, several Connecticut Bertucci's kitchens, including the Darien location, began operating as one of Guy Fieri’s Flavortown ghost kitchens, a delivery-only service for Fieri’s southern home-style menu.

Abbruzzese said he felt there was likely a lack of interest in visiting a chain restaurant when there are plenty of local restaurants that are just as popular. 

“There’s so many mom-and-pop pizza shops,” he said. “I think locals just prefer that.”

Bertucci's could not be reached for comment. 

There are only three Bertucci’s locations remaining in Connecticut. The nearest location is 55 miles away in Newington.