BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Demetrios’ Pizza House is known for its large portions and welcoming environment. Over the last 46 years, the restaurant has been the go-to spot for many families after little-league and soccer games, for anniversaries, birthday parties, and family gatherings.

After nearly half a century, the family behind the business is getting ready to say goodbye.

“Our decision to retire is not COVID-related but rather because we are physically and mentally exhausted.  It has been an honor to have served so many of you throughout the years,” wrote the family in their retirement announcement.

“We have worked many many long, hard hours and we are ready to retire and enjoy our family and our friends and our grandkids,” said co-owner Gus Sokos.

The outpouring of love and support has been constant over the last few weeks. Visitors will notice thank you cards and flowers as soon as they walk through the front doors.

“The response has truly just been overwhelming and genuine and just this outpouring of emotion that we could’ve never expected. It has been like a tidal wave. It really really has been just the best feeling,” Gus’s daughter Eleni Sokos said.

People lined up outside before the restaurant opened Friday and the crowds continued throughout the evening. Everyone we spoke with came out to say goodbye and get their final fix.

“Being here has been a huge part of our family for the last.. since they opened pretty much,” said longtime customer Doug Snyder.

Back in 1976, Sokos’ parents and his aunt Paula opened the restaurant. He described it as their ‘American dream’.

“Our parents came to this country to pursue a better life. They had a hard life where they came from. To work was nothing for them. It was something that you had to do to become better,” he explained.

Sokos has been working in the restaurant since he was just 12-years-old. Even in her seventies, his aunt Paula also works at the restaurant everyday it’s open to the public.

“The true workhorse in this family is our aunt Paula. She is the one who is here from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every night for 46 years. She’s in her 70s now and she is still working those hours,” said Eleni Sokos. “It is time for them to just enjoy family and enjoy the fruits of their labor at this point. The two of them combined, there is truly no one else like them,” she continued.

The restaurant will serve its final pie Saturday, April 16.