A reservation-only buffet at Immediato’s on Saturday marked the end of the restaurant in downtown Middletown.

Owner Tony Immediato has decided to close his business after 13 years on West Main Street. Instead, he will concentrate on his catering business.

One of the customers at the buffet was Richard Forsten, president of the Appoquinimink School District Board of Education.

“It shouldn’t be closing. It’s a shame. Immediato’s is one of the great little restaurants that every town needs. Downtown will be different without it,” Forsten said.

He hopes Immediato becomes bored over time and opens a new restaurant.

The restaurant employed five people. Ashley Bell has worked at the business for two years. “It’s sad. I understand, life happens. People have to go different directions. I’m going to miss everyone, the staff and the customers,” said Bell, a resident of Townsend.

Immediato said closing the restaurant and concentrating on his catering is a “lifestyle change” and “a positive.” He also has two sons in college, he said.

“Everybody thinks closing is a negative. But it really doesn’t have to be a negative, but a new positive,” Immediato said.

He’s even thought of a catch phrase for his catering business. “My new motto is Immediato’s Bistro may be closing, but Immediato’s is still cooking,” he said.

He didn’t renew his lease for the 42-seat Italian restaurant and sold the part of the building he and his wife, Jennifer, owned. He declined to name the new owner.

Tony Immediato, a Wilmington native, is the grandson of the late Al Immediato, who was one of the Three Little Bakers, a Delaware restaurant icon for generations.

Immediato grew up at The Three Little Bakers Dinner Theater and Country Club, starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to food and beverage manager. Eventually, he and his wife bought the sandwich shop in Middletown and expanded it.

He now plans to concentrate on his catering business by operating out of commercial kitchens and meeting with potential clients at another business. He also will run a food trailer at Coleman’s Christmas Tree Farm in Middletown during the fall and Christmas holidays.