WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- It was a difficult decision, but the owners of Armand's Chicago Pizzeria's Tenleytown
location say they have no choice but to close its flagship store.
"When we started, pizza was a low-rent food, and this place became a destination dining spot," said co-owner Ron Newmyer, the son of the founder.
Ron Newmyer's father, Lew, opened the first Armand's Chicago Pizzeria in Northwest DC in 1975. Since then, the Newmyer family has been serving pizzas and sub sandwiches to generations of customers. Customers that include celebrities and Washington's elite, including many First Families.
"I remember waiting in line to get in here, coming with the baseball team or the soccer team," said longtime customer Todd Norcutt.
Newmyer says his family pizza shop just can't keep up with the competition and rising costs, especially when monthly rent is near $12,000.
Lew's first restaurant was Armand's Sub-Way, which opened in 1969. He then went to a Chicago restaurant fair and that's when he decided to become the deep dish pizza king of Washington.
"I think he changed the perception of what pizza could be in Washington, DC," said Newmyer.
Longtime customers, many who've grown up with Armand's, say its closure is emotional and will be dearly missed.
"We've been coming here weekly and enjoying it every time we come here," said customer Scott Gibson. "It's a sad kind of thing."
"This is a home for us," explained Norcutt. "It was a hang-out. It was a first job. It was a first date. It's really sad."
Armand's several other locations in Maryland and Virginia will remain open.