Testa’s restaurant, a favorite local eatery and a town icon for decades, closed its doors Saturday night to make way for the new development on Royal Poinciana Way.
“The outpouring from the community has been truly overwhelming, flattering and humbling,” Testa said in an email. “Thank you to all for 96 memorable years.”
Town Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay was among the customers on Saturday. “It’s a sad day for me,” she said. “I grew up here.”
Lindsay recalled celebrating many birthdays at Testa’s and went for lunch on the restaurant’s last day with her husband, Douglas Buck, and son, John Buck.
The restaurant first opened its doors on the island in 1921 and is the oldest family-owned restaurant in Palm Beach County. Famous for its strawberry pie and “steak for two,” it began as a soda shop down the street from the building at 221 Royal Poinciana Way, its home since 1947.
“So many people have been part of our lives and we of theirs,” Tom Testa said. “Each member of our family has so many memories and, as we have heard from our longtime customers and friends, those memories are what we all will take with us and cherish most.”
The Frisbie Group plans to begin demolition next month of the restaurant building, defunct service station and Via Testa buildings to make way for a new and smaller restaurant, shops and six luxury condominiums with underground parking. The project is supposed to be completed in about three years, according to an agreement between the Frisbies and the town.
It’s not clear if Testa’s will return in the new restaurant at the redeveloped site or elsewhere. Tom Testa has said the family is keeping its options open.
“I’ve been coming here since 1977,” said L Michael Lee of Jupiter, who was at the restaurant Saturday. “They have the best martinis in town and it was a great place to bring a date … you could never re-create this place. It’s a Palm Beach landmark.”
David Malouff of Boynton Beach was also at Testa’s on Saturday.
“It’s sad they’re closing, but times have changed,” he said. “We’ll see what the new project brings.”