Family and friends gathered in Belmont on Sunday, March 9 to honor the late Natale “Nat” Cerini with the dedication of a street sign with his name.
Cerini’s son John said he chose the corner of 187th street and Belmont Avenue because it was the location of his father’s first business, the Roma Luncheonette. The sign is also in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, where his parents were married in 1966.
Nat Cerini immigrated from Italy with his family in 1950s with no knowledge of the English language. After graduating high school, he opened the Roma Luncheonette, which he left to his parents when he moved on to other business ventures. But he was more interested in finance and transitioned to working as an insurance salesman, and then an accountant for H&R Block, moving up the ranks to managing their offices across the Bronx.
“Always an entrepreneur”
But he wanted to do more, and opened his own accounting business in Belmont in 1976, said his son – “He was always an entrepreneur.”
Although Nat Cerini moved his young family to Throggs Neck, he continued to be involved in Belmont and the Italian community throughout his career.
He was part of the group who brought a soccer field to Belmont for the Bronx Italian Soccer Club, he helped found an Italian youth group in the community, and he was involved in the effort to bring the Belmont Library and Enrico Fermi Cultural Center to the neighborhood. He was a president of the Italian-American Federation of the Bronx and lower Westchester, and he also offered free accounting services and advice to immigrants in his community.
Keeping his memory alive
After his father died in September 2012, John Cerini said he started looking for a way to publicly honor his father, and began the process of applying for a dedicated street sign, finally approved with the help of local City Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “I just didn’t want his memory to fade,” he said.
The street was briefly closed as about 150 gathered to unveil the sign.
Cerini said he was awed by the crowd. It meant a lot to his family, he said, and especially to his mother.
“To see all the people who came out to show their support and love for my father was overwhelming for her.”
Cerini said that seeing his fathers name up on the street sign inspires him, and that he wants to live up to the legacy of his father as a business owner and community leader. Cerini opened his accounting business in Throggs Neck in 1999, called the Bronx Tax Man. He is also the treasurer and former president of the Throggs Neck Merchant Association.
“For the rest of my life I have every intention of being in Throggs Neck and helping Throggs Neck the way he helped his neighborhood.”