CLEVELAND — Frankie Restifo, known to Clevelanders as "Uncle Frankie," is retiring from Gust Gallucci Italian Foods after working at the business for more than half a century.
“We never thought this day would come, but tomorrow, after working with three generations of the Gallucci family, at 93 years old, Uncle Frankie is retiring. Whether through pandemic, depression, recession, moving locations, and all the ups and downs that happen in business, Frankie has been here and shared his beautiful spirit (with) all of us,” the store posted on Facebook.
Gallucci’s, a “fine purveyor of Italian and imported gourmet foods” located at 6610 Euclid Ave., has been a Cleveland favorite for over 85 years.
The store is named after Gust Gallucci, an Italian immigrant from Faeto, Italy. He came to Cleveland in the early 1900s and soon set up shop, using a wooden cart to sell food products. In 1912, he opened his first storefront.
Later, Gust’s sons joined him at the shop, and it’s been a family-run business ever since. Gust's great-grandson, Marc Kotora, is still involved in the day-to-day operation.
Restifo started working at the store following the Korean War and has been a constant presence for around 60 years.
"For so many people, he's been that one constant. People remember him from their childhood. Even people in their 60s," Kotora said. "I'm really happy for him, but on a personal level, I'll miss him."
Restifo is a household name for Gallucci's customers. He's been there, helping patrons and entertaining people with stories for a very long time. At 93, Restifo still has a perfect memory.
"He has an ability for a total recall of events in history," Kotora said.
Saturday will mark Restifo's last day at the store. Kotora calls it the "end of an era."
“We don't have words for how much his smile will be missed around the store, but no one has earned a grand retirement like him," the store's management said on Facebook. "Stop in tomorrow for his last shift to share memories, wish him luck, or send him a message with your curbside order. Frankie, Mille auguri per la tua nuova vita!”
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