Sal Randazzo, a visionary restaurateur and the founder of Marina del Rey Caterers, has passed away at the age of 76.
Family and friends mourned Randazzo, who opened the Throggs Neck waterfront facility in 1972 at the site of Dania Marina, which he and his brother operated.
He converted the marina into a catering business that will be his lasting legacy, many believe..
Marina del Rey, a community staple that Sal Randazzo first designed as a one-room dining facility, gradually expanded to four rooms, and will continue to operate for the foreseeable future, said his nephew Carl Randazzo.
“The future of Marina del Rey is status quo,” said his nephew, adding that Sal Randazzo built a business from the ground up that has endured for close to five decades and that his uncle wanted it to continue after he was gone.
“His final wish was to keep the place going,” said Carl Randazzo. “The tenure in the management team is unbelievable; I think in the management team alone we have over 100 years of experience.”
In the late 1960s, Randazzo drew up plans for Marina del Rey while working at his family’s Throggs Neck Italian restaurant, Tom’s Villa Bianca, located at the corner of East Tremont Avenue and Sullivan Place, his nephew said.
“He wanted the best food, the best presentation for people having parties,” he said.
Randazzo relied on his mother Anne and his late-wife Lorraine, for interior decoration, menu planning and also with building a system for running Marina del Rey that was ultimately used in other businesses, according to information supplied by his family.
With an amazing attention to detail, Sal Randazzo built Marina del Rey into a highly successful endeavor after the tragic death of his older brother, who had been running the marina, said Don Kelly, his friend of 60 years.
“What’s interesting about Sal is that he had (little) formal education,” said Kelly. “And despite that, he envisioned, designed, built and managed this extraordinary business.”
Sal Randazzo left a legacy of hard work, opportunity, generosity, laughter and love, said Kelly, adding that everyone got to know him personally and that he was very generous.
“(Marina del Rey) has had an effect on literally thousands of young men and women who worked there as they were paying their tuition for college,” said Kelly. “So many went on to to medical and law school, and to financial institutions, etcetera.”
Randazzo was an extraordinary conversationalist, said Kelly, and was open to discussing any topic.
“There was nothing that he could not get his head around,” said Kelly. “He was that facile intellectually.”
His nephew best remembered his charisma.
“He was very charismatic, and I think that charisma showed through the business, and was really the heart of the business,” he said.
Sal Randazzo was from the Throggs Neck community, growing up on Lafayette Avenue, said Carl Randazzo.
The cause of death was complication from a stroke he suffered. He passed away on Monday, May 23.
He is survived by two stepchildren, Joseph Benedetto and Melody Moricco. His two nephews Frank Randazzo and Carl Randazzo, his niece Anita Price, and his fiancé Lucy Garcia also survive him.