The sweet scent of fresh, homemade Italian food that emanates from the Dino’s Italian Food parking lot will be leaving Lakewood after 58 years. Judy Duren has been around the restaurant, named …
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The sweet scent of fresh, homemade Italian food that emanates from the Dino’s Italian Food parking lot will be leaving Lakewood after 58 years.
Judy Duren has been around the restaurant, named after her father Dino (Dee-No) DiPaolo, since she was nine-years-old. She took control of the business when DiPaolo passed away in 2012 and has worked to carry on the restaurant as best as she could. But with building and equipment issues, Duren says it’s time to close the Lakewood classic on Sept. 30.
“You feel an accomplishment every day when you do a good job. It’s been my whole life,” said Duren. “I don’t have someone coming in. It would be a lot easier if I knew what was happening next.”
Hail that pounded down on the restaurant’s roof caused damage, while machines that are used to make the in-house Italian food like the dough rounder are starting to breakdown and wear out. Duren says it’s not economical to replace everything, and she’s ready to move on.
Duren attributes the restaurant’s longevity in Lakewood to DiPaolo, who she describes as a community person. She said he gave back to schools in Lakewood, Golden, Wheatridge and Arvada by supporting numerous school activities like sports programs and after proms.
“The schools and kids are our bread and butter. When you do that kind of stuff, parents pay attention to that,” said Duren. “The community responded to (DiPaolo).”
Some of her staff has worked at the restaurant for decades, including Lakewood resident Karen Heller who does bookkeeping for the restaurant. She started working at Dino’s in the beginning of 1988.
“You get to know the customers and the extended families, and you can imagine how many there have been over that many years. Third and fourth generations — they know me by my name,” said Heller. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere.”
Since news got out that Dino’s is closing, the restaurant has been packed with customers who have been lined up looking to get one last taste of the restaurant’s signature lasagna, homemade noodles, the Dino Special sandwich and more.
“The outpouring of support is truly overwhelming. It’s a nice tribute to my dad,” said Duren.
Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul noted that he loved eating pizza from the restaurant along with their salad that comes with in-house made dressing and breadsticks.
“One of my favorite spots and an old school classic. (Dino’s is) a great family that will be missed by our entire community,” said Paul.
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