The cost of doing business has ended the 37-year run of a beloved D.C. restaurant.
Armand's Pizza, a fixture on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest D.C. since the mid-70s, will serve its last pie on Saturday.
It is a sad day for the owners who say they just can't keep up.
If you have ever tasted an Armand's deep dish pie, you know why pizza connoisseurs have worshiped at Armand's for decades. The dough, baked just right, has a way of melting in your mouth.
"The pizza has been just as good the entire time it's been open," said customer Paul Greenberg. "It's an amazing place."
The secret ingredients are mixed in the basement by the dough maker. It is a position only two people have held in 37 years.
What is in it came from a clandestine research mission in Chicago conducted by the founder of the business.
"And he went out there and saw people in line at one of the original Chicago pizzerias," said owner Ron Newmyer, speaking about his father's trip. "[He] asked them for the secret of the food. They didn't want to tell him much. He came back after midnight with a flashlight, went through the dumpster, pulled the labels off the flour sack, the yeast packet, the tomatoes, found out what kind of ingredients they were using."
What he created was so delicious, it was common to see a line out the door.
And the regulars, well some of them, were presidential daughters.
"This is Amy Carter celebrating a birthday here in 1977, and here is Chelsea Clinton doing the same in the 90s," said Newmyer, showing off the pictures of their visits.
President Barack Obama has eaten Armand's. So has singer Bonnie Raitt.
Customer Sue Greenberg said she would miss "everything, everything, the pizza mostly."
At another table in the crowded restaurant Friday, Mike Barnes said, "So much has changed in this city and this is just another place gone by the wayside and that's not comfortable with me. I'm going to miss this and a lot of other things that have changed."
"When we started here in 1975, a large pizza was $7.95 and now a large cheese pizza is $13.49," said Newmyer. "So it hasn't quite doubled in price. Whereas the rent, which was originally $264 a month, is now almost $12,000 a month."
In addition to the soaring rent, Armand's is closing because the competition is through the roof. Within a few blocks on Wisconsin Avenue, there is a Pizza Boli's, Pete's New Haven Style Apizza, Pizza Roma, Domino's, and right across the street, Pizza Autentica".
And so, as we say goodbye to an old friend, the mural on the wall, telling us just part of the story, the memories will last forever.