More familiar spots at the Jersey Shore are on the way out to make way for new houses, all part of an ongoing building boom at the beach.
It made for a bittersweet goodbye at Tonio’s Seafood Shack in Avalon. The restaurant had tirelessly served up meals for three decades, but was reduced to rubble.
"Thirty years of happiness, the Avalon borough gave us," said owner Kimberly Galdi.
The seafood restaurant won't be the only eatery not returning for the summer season in 2022 — it was brought down just a day after Tonio’s Pizza came down next door. A neighboring triplex, once known as the Virginia Lou restaurant, is also slated to be demolished.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
Galdi and her family closed the restaurants for good this past fall.
"Over the past few years, it got harder with getting employees and summer help," she said. "In our hearts, we knew it was time. Thirty years is a long time to be in a business like this.”
Galdi said a developer is buying the property to build three side-by-side duplexes. In Avalon and many other Jersey Shore towns, longtime landmarks are coming down to make way for new homes as demand continues to surge for real estate along the coast.
“Nobody's making more land, and that's a finite resource," said Avalon Borough Business Administrator Scott Wahl. "And when you have jersey shore towns being very attractive for the way they run, they look and all the amenities to a family, they are extraordinarily in high demand.”
A local demolition company has been very busy lately in the area. In the past few months, the company said they also brought down a different restaurant and a longtime bait, tackle and boat rental business.
jim rodia/men & machines: 00:21 “We've been tearing down all the iconic places here in town," said Jim Rodia, of Men & Machines. “My daughter worked here delivering pizzas, and she was upset to see it go too.”
Galdi and her husband will now focus on their family’s restaurant in the Florida Keys.
"It's sad, but happy because we're moving on," Galdi said. "Our sign for Tonio’s did go in the Avalon museum. So it will be on display there.”
She said a piece of her heart will also remain in Avalon, long after the rubble is gone.