The pizza place made popular by one of the most famous and influential openings in movie history will close its doors after 70 years on Sunday.
Lenny’s Pizza was the slice joint that John Travolta‘s character Tony Manero stops at for a bite while he swaggers around his Brooklyn neighborhood at the beginning of 1977’s Saturday Night Fever.
In the scene, Travolta orders two slices of pizza from a waitress, played by his sister, Ann, and stacks them on top of each other while the Bee Gees belt out Stayin’ Alive in the background. Since then, Lenny’s has offered a ‘double-decker’ style pizza in honor of the movie’s success.
The announcement came Saturday that the parlor would shutter at the close of business on February 19 as long-time owner Frank Giordano, an Italian immigrant, has decided to retire at the age of 77.
In an ironic twist of fate, the news comes on the same day that John Travolta celebrates his 69th birthday.
Owner Frank Giordano’s daughter, Josephine, made the announcement on Facebook that Lenny’s was closing
In 2018, Lenny’s was chosen as the site of Celebrate John Travolta Day in Brooklyn
‘We thankfully have done very well and felt it was best to close once my dad was ready. It’s time for him and I to enjoy our families. We want to thank everyone who has given us the opportunity to serve them,’ Giordano’s daughter, Josephine, wrote in a Facebook post.
In her post, Josephine, who is the manager, referred to the closure as ‘bittersweet.’ Her family are not the original owners, they took over in 1983, and now own the building.
‘This is a very emotional time for us. We ask for you to be respectful,’ she added.
Lenny’s is located along 86th in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. At the time of the movie’s release, the neighborhood was nearly 100 percent Italian American.
These days, the area has seen an influx of Asian immigrants and some blocks are considered part of Brooklyn’s Chinatown. Josephine Giordano once described Lenny’s as being like ‘the last of the Mohicans.’
Oddly the original Lenny, only owned the restaurant until 1959. Josephine said in a 2016 interview that her family never considered changing the name because of how well-known and important it was to the local community.
She said that people come from places such as the United Kingdom and Japan to grab a slice and take pictures outside.
‘If I had a penny for how many people tell me they were here during the movie, I’d be rich! There’s always a few guys that come and point to the picture of John Travolta and a guy in here and say, “That’s me.,”‘ Josephine continued.
She went on to say that many of Lenny’s original customers have moved away from Bensonhurst, to places such as Staten Island and New Jersey.
Josephine went on to discuss the problems of the public’s changing dietary habits, finding good staff and rigorous health department checks.
In a 2014 interview, Josephine said that after she graduated from culinary school, she added gluten-free and whole wheat pizza to Lenny’s menu.
In a 2016 interview, Josephine Giordano said that many of Lenny’s original customers had moved away from the Bensonhurst section
In a 2014 interview, Josephine said that after she graduated from culinary school, she added gluten-free and whole wheat pizza to Lenny’s menu
Travolta made an appearance at Lenny’s in honor of John Travolta Day. The New Jersey native spoke to the crowd, danced and ate some pizza alongside his late wife, Kelly Preston.
‘We love you. We love Brooklyn. Thank you very, very much. I’m so humbled, it’s amazing. I never expected this big a turnout, it was awesome,’ the actor told his fans who had been chanting ‘We want John!’ prior to his arrival.
‘Brooklyn has been in my DNA since Welcome Back, Kotter. I love you all so very much. Thank you for giving me such a foundation for my career,’ he added.
In the show Welcome Back, Kotter Travolta played Brooklyn-native high school student Vinnie Barbarino.
‘We love you. We love Brooklyn. Thank you very, very much. I’m so humbled, it’s amazing. I never expected this big a turnout, it was awesome,’ Travolta told the crowd in 2018
‘Brooklyn has been in my DNA since Welcome Back, Kotter. I love you all so very much. Thank you for giving me such a foundation for my career,’ he added
Travolta pictured with his late wife, Kelly Preston, devouring a couple of slices
Preston, who passed away in 2020 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer, wrote on her Instagram page at the time: ‘Having a total fangirl moment. Thank you Brooklyn for an insane day.’
The appearance was also made to coincide with the release of Travolta’s derided biopic of mafia chief John Gotti titled Gotti. The mob boss’s son John ‘Junior’ Gotti was present with Travolta at the event.
At a separate celebration event for the 40th anniversary of the movie, Lenny’s Pizza was served free all night at a night club in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
While in 2016, the Red Hot Chili Peppers shot part of their music video for the song Go Robot outside of Lenny’s. The video’s theme paid homage to Saturday Night Fever.
The restaurant’s official website shows the band members posing for photos with the staff.
A few days before the closure was confirmed, Lenny’s, and Frank Giordano, were featured in an ad campaign for Puma’s collaboration with LA-based designer Rhuigi Villasenor.