Frank Bonfilio ready to close the door of the Old Towne Cafe after 35 years (there is still time for one last burger)

By Andy Furman
Special for NKyTribune

It’s finish.

The Old Towne Cafe will close on February 16.

“After 35 years,” said owner/operator Frank Bonfilio, “it was time.”

Now is the time for Bonfilio – and his family – to enjoy some time off.

The 67-year-old Buffalo native is a chef, cook and bottle washer for the small restaurant at 9 W. Pike Street in Covington. It’s been a 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. chore, six days a week for Bonfilio — and his wife and daughter. Preparing food, cooking and working as a chef was Bonfilio’s love – and what ultimately brought him to Northern Kentucky.

Frank Bonfilio — ready for a game of golf.

“I worked as a chef for the Holiday Inn in Buffalo,” he said. “Soon after that, Stouffer’s hired me in 1978 and moved me to Cincinnati.”

He started a restaurant business – The Village Pantry in Mt. Lookout.

“But my life’s dream was to always have a little dinner and serve the community,” he said.

This dream came true in August 1987 – the opening of the Old Towne Café – in the same location as it is today.

“I had no problem with the opening,” he said, “I had every confidence in the world that we would pull it off.”

He certainly did.

“We had them all here every morning,” he said.

The names rolled off Bonfilio’s tongue as if it were yesterday.

“Clyde Middleton, a former County Executive Judge; former Kenton County Commissioner Dick Combs; Dick Murgatroyd, former State Representative and Kenton County Executive Judge; and former Covington Mayor Denny Bowman were just a few who were here for breakfast every day,” he said. “There were more political deals here at our tables than you will ever know.”

In fact, Governor Andy Beshear took a break from campaigning.

If there’s one thing people will remember on the Old Towne Café menu, it’s their burgers.

“I’m proud to say that our burgers have always been well known,” said Bonfilio, who remains a loyal Buffalo Bills fan and a member of the Northern Kentucky Bills Backers. “We make these burgers ourselves every morning.”

Bonfilio said the new owners had promised to stay a breakfast/lunch option – but it was unclear if they would keep the Old Towne Café name.

The whole Bonfilio family worked at the Old Towne Café at one time or another – today Frank is his wife and daughter.

“We did our catering 24/7 and worked the restaurant six days,” he said. “It was difficult – and we stopped our restaurant business about three years ago.”

The Old Towne Café – as we know it – will close on Wednesday February 16.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with my free time,” says Bonfilio, “but I already have friends in the food business asking me for time and doing prep work.

“I just hope I could work on my golf game.”

About Walter Bartholomew

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