THERE may not be a dry eye in the house when a popular town restaurant serves up its final dish after almost three decades.
For much-loved Hartlepool eaterie Krimo’s is shutting its doors at the end of the month.
The final night at the venue will be on October 31, and is fully booked.
The man behind the business, Krimo Bouabda, is already feeling emotional about the closure.
He said: “I’m keeping things low key at the moment – I don’t know how I will feel on the night after twenty-nine-and-a-half years.”
The Mail told in March of Krimo’s sadness at selling up due to the lease expiring in December and the fact he is “getting old”.
The 61-year-old will be concentrating on his other two restaurants, Casa Del Mar and Portofino’s.
He said someone may be interested in buying the business.
Krimo has looked back on almost three decades of running his namesake, and paid tribute to the people of Hartlepool for making it such a success.
Krimo’s first existed on The Front at Seaton Carew, and was opened on May 4, 1985 after Krimo and his wife Karen, now 65, opened it with just £250.
“The waiting lists were 20 weeks in advance for a Saturday night,” recalls Krimo.
But as Krimo’s got more popular, the regeneration of Hartlepool Marina led to Krimo talking to the Teesside Development Corporation in 1994 with a view to moving there.
Krimo’s as we now know it opened in Neptune House, by the marina lock gates, in March 2000.
Since then Krimo has had thousands of satisfied customers through the door, including celebrity fans Timmy Mallet, Jimmy Nail and Timothy Spall.
Two local couples, Brian and Margaret Swift, and Gill and Graham Harland, love the restaurant so much, they have been eating there every fortnight since it opened in Seaton. Krimo says he must have employed thousands of staff over the years, from dish washers to head chefs.
Many have gone on to be a success in their own right, including David Clarke, who runs his own pub in West Auckland, and some have gone on to lecture in catering. Krimo’s highlights including turning the Seaton venue into Karen’s Restaurant for the day, when his wife turned 40 in 1989.
“The Hartlepool Mail came out and took pictures, and we changed all the names on the front door and the menus,” said Krimo. “Karen had no idea.”
He said doubling the size of the Seaton restaurant when the couple moved out of the flat above to make two floors was also a highlight.
And he said the tall ships coming to the marina in 2010 and bringing customers from around the world was “absolutely amazing”.
But Krimo, who lives in Bishop Cuthbert and is dad to Adam, 33, and stepdad to Alison Johns, 48, and Lisa, 46, and Leslie Dodds, 44, said: “What I will miss the most will be going around the restaurant having a chat with the regulars, and also finding out about people who have come from all over the world.
“I speak a few languages and it’s lovely to try to discover where they are from and what attracts them to the marina and what’s brought them to Hartlepool.”
He added that he loves to suggest local places to visit for diners who are from out of town.
The restaurant has survived “through thick and thin”, says Krimo, including the recessions and customer numbers dwindling in national salmonella and mad cow disease outbreaks.
But Krimo, also grandfather to Evie Johns, 19, who has been helping to run Krimo’s, Alex Johns, 14, and two-year-old Isaac Bouabda, said: “The hardest part will be walking away from it all.
“Fingers crossed somebody may carry on the good work that we’ve done.
“For myself I will be concentrating on Casa Del Mar and Portofino to ensure they go on for a long time.”