The Norris family announced Thursday they will close Bertha’s, the popular mussels restaurant in Fells Point they have owned for more than 50 years.

The restaurant and bar owners, Tony and Laura Norris, said on Facebook that they are “closing doors for good” at the end of the year. The establishment, located at 734 S. Broadway, will head to Alex Cooper Auction House for an online sale next month as its owners prepare for retirement.

“Closing Bertha’s is bittersweet. As a family, we’ve given so many great years to this wonderful place and are now ready to pursue other life paths and interests,” the family wrote on Facebook. “We have made many treasured friendships over the years with our customers, staff, and neighbors. We THANK YOU ALL for being part of our lives.”

Customers like Garry Cowin found a home away from home at Bertha’s. So much so that there’s a picture of him that his then girlfriend, Farbee Street, painted hanging on the wall.

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“A girlfriend of mine, she painted the picture for an old Fells Point lady. She wanted the Baltimore Clippers, so she changed it and she said the woman didn’t want it. So to surprise me, she put me in it,” Cowin said. “She surprised me and made me look like I was sinking and it says, ‘Keel over she might, I still got me pint’.”

Originally from Liverpool, England, Cowin has been coming to Bertha’s since 1984. He came to Baltimore to work at an engineering company. But he makes clocks, too, and some of them are also hanging around the bar at Bertha’s.

“I come most days, and usually have a couple of these [National Bohemian] beers. And I keep coming back because I’m friends with so many people in Fells Point – it’s a good crowd – with a lot of familiar faces. And this has always been the place to see them,” Cowin added.

In 1972, Bertha’s became the first Fells Point restaurant that people could dine in, according to staff. But aside from being the first dine-in restaurant, owner Tony Norris created the widely recognized “EAT BERTHA’S MUSSELS” stickers that can allegedly be found somewhere on all seven continents.

When customers ask, they can get a few of the green-and-white stickers. Many have created new variants by cutting up and rearranging the letters as they drank, posting on the walls around the bar or on their cars. Some of the tarnished yellow stickers that have been there since the ’70s say things like “BEAT PEE WEE’S MUSSEL” and ”EAT HANNAH’S MONTANA.”

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Mara O’Connell lives in Fells Point and has frequented Bertha’s for the past 25 years. She says these days cozy spots like Bertha’s are disappearing in the neighborhood and ‘they’re being replaced with bigger commercial bars.’”

“When I have people come in from out of town, I show them the wonderfully cozy happy bar. I know the owners very well, all the waitstaff, right now my son is a bartender there. And it’s devastating that this neighborhood institution is closing,” O’Connell said.

“It’s really sad to know that I probably won’t get to see the owners and everybody who works there as much I would like anymore,” she added.

The family couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday, but talked about some of their best memories on Facebook.

“We are proud to have actively participated in the growth of this neighborhood, starting with the historic ‘road fight’ and preservation efforts of the ’70s, leading to what we now know as the first National Historic District and the booming waterfront destination today,” they posted. “There have been many wonderful times, of course, but what remains most prominent are memories spent with family, kind neighbors, and good friends.”

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“Please visit us in our final weeks and months to celebrate our time together and to remember this great adventure,” they said.