WESTPORT — It’s getting rarer for any American business to operate for half a century — let alone a restaurant — but Viva Zapata in Westport is a unique place.

On Saturday, the bar and Mexican restaurant at 530 Riverside Ave. held an anniversary party, with special recognition from some town officials and civic leaders, as well as attendance by generations of customers who have frequented the place for decades.

“This is my favorite place in the whole world,” said Geri Gerpe of Westport, who has been going to Viva Zapata for more than 30 years. “There’s no place like this.”

“As a town, we celebrate 50 years of this being a restaurant that’s served the community and supported the community,” said First Selectman Jim Marpe, who presented owners Bob O’Mahony and Harry Brady with a proclamation commemorating the anniversary.

“It’s been a gathering place for generations of Westporters,” Marpe said, “and a place where people can come and relax, make new friendships and be part of this tradition.”

“Fifty years in business for a restaurant is a true testament to what it offers the town of Westport,” said Matthew Mandell, Chamber of Commerce president.

“Restaurants open and close, and for this one 50 years is really amazing,” he said.