Anthony “Tony” Fucinaro loved meeting, greeting and serving the customers at his restaurant.
The founder of Anthony's Steakhouse in Omaha worked 16-hour days for decades and never completely retired.
Recent health problems caught up with Fucinaro, though. The 82-year-old died Saturday at Methodist Hospital, said his daughter Rita Bartlett of Omaha. The cause of death had not been determined.
A vigil service is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Gerald Catholic Church, 9602 Q St. A funeral Mass will start at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the church.
Fucinaro opened Anthony's in 1967 near 72nd and F Streets, which at the time was Omaha's western edge. It was before Interstate 80 was built nearby.
Anthony's started with a 120-seat dining room and an 80-seat lounge. Over the years it grew to accommodate nearly 1,000 people in its restaurant, lounge, banquet and party rooms, and patio.
The restaurant's aged steaks, Italian specialties and large fiberglass steer on the roof made Anthony's an Omaha institution.
Fucinaro was the son of Italian immigrants who, after Prohibition ended, owned a Ralston tavern and lived above the bar, his daughter said.
After graduating from Creighton Prep in 1949, Fucinaro farmed with his father and helped him run a family enterprise, the former Ralston Bowl, now Scorz bowling alley in downtown Ralston.
The son opened a couple of bars on his own, including the Playmaker Lounge on Leavenworth Street, which later became home to Pauli's and then the Recovery Room.
Fucinaro's honors have included being named restaurateur of the year in 1999 by the Nebraska Restaurant Association and business person of the year by the Ralston Chamber of Commerce.
He was a founding member of St. Gerald Catholic Church and a member of the Masonic Scottish Rite and a Jester at the Tangier Temple.
Survivors in addition to Bartlett include his wife of 60 years, Josephine; children Anthony Fucinaro Jr., Joseph Fucinaro and Kathryn Boulay, all of Omaha; 14 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; brother Domenic Fucinaro of Omaha; and sister Mary Ferdani of Lakewood, Colo.