UPDATE: The owners have decided to keep the restaurant open.
Open since 1979, the family-owned Francisco’s Centro Vasco has closed, Bedford + Bowery reports, with a sign on the door thanking customers for over 35 years of business.
The third-generation restaurant has touted itself as “the number one lobster house in New York City” and featured a menu of shrimp, clams, oysters, and mussels, but lobster was the go-to.
“With good reason is there a neon lobster hanging outside Francisco’s Centro Vasco,” Robert Simonson wrote in Eater’s “Who Goes There?” in 2009. “When you sit down, before you’re even handed a menu, the waiter places a hand-lettered index card on your table, indicating the size and cost of the lobsters available that night.”
Simonson guessed it was one of the few places left in Manhattan to hand out plastic lobster bibs and said it reigned as a birthday destination, where every night the musician on the payroll sang “feliz cumpleaños” while diners swilled sangria and feasted on lobster tail.
“The crowd was one of the most pluralistic I’ve ever seen in any New York restaurant,” wrote Simonson. “There were tables of Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Jewish couples, Hispanic parties, Spaniards and one gathering of Wall Street young bucks. It was a melting pot.”