The Arthur Avenue and Belmont community lost a legend this week.
On Monday, the owner of Mario’s, Joseph Migliucci lost his life due to COVID-19.
In 2019 the restaurant, located at 2342 Arthur Avenue, celebrated a century of being open. Migliucci and his daughter Regina Migliucci-Delfino operated the five-generation landmark.
Migliucci, 81, was a patriarch in the community and beloved by the residents, business owners and everyone that knew him. He is survived by his wife Barbara, six children and 16 grandchildren.
Peter Madonia, chairman of the Belmont Business Improvement District, spoke about the departed. Madonia, who owns Madonia Brothers Bakery, 2348 Arthur Ave., noted he will miss Migliucci walking down the street with a huge smile greeting people.
“For me, what matters most is to say how deeply saddened I am,” Madonia said. “I am sad for the Migliucci family, and the Mario’s restaurant family including its employees, neighbors, friends, and customers. I am also saddened for the city of New York, because it has lost an individual with a big heart and soul. Joe contributed so much to our neighborhood and the fabric of this city.
“But if I know Joe, the big burly lovable man, I bet he would walk down Arthur Avenue and say, “Peter, we’ve been through worse, I remember your grandfather….”
In memory of Joe, and out of respect for him and those like him, I say, “we carry on.”
He recalled how many Sunday mornings he would find Migliucci in Mario’s before their scheduled opening and they would have espresso and chat.
Madonia could go and on about Migliucci, but knows in the future when the COVID-19 crisis ends he will be celebrated.
On a lighter note, Enzo’s of Arthur Avenue has stepped up and donated meals to St. Barnabas Hospital and the 48th Precinct.
Owner Maria Di Rende said her restaurant is barely surviving the epidemic and offering take out and delivery only, but knowing she could help the people on the front lines means so much.
She told the Bronx Times, she is essentially paying her employees out of her pocket right now.
“I chose to stay open because people still need to eat,” she explained. “It gives my workers an opportunity to make money.”
Di Rende jokingly said some of her staff said she doesn’t even have to pay them.
She is doing what she can to service the community, but she never imagined things would be this dire.
“I did not think it would come to this at all,” she said. “We’re going to do our best. There are times I should just shut down and stay home. Everyone is hurting and are scared.”