on May 12, 2013 - 10:37 PM
, updated May 13, 2013 at 12:01 PM
April 22, 1930 – May 11, 2013
Ann Billittier of Hamburg, co-owner of the popular Chef’s restaurant at Seneca and Chicago streets and devoted to causes that helped the children and less fortunate of the community, died Saturday in Tidewell Hospice in Sarasota, Fla., after a short illness. She was 83.
A native of Buffalo, the former Ann Battaglia worked beside her husband, Louis J. Billittier, to build Chef’s into a family restaurant that became a favorite meeting spot for local political leaders and other notables. Mr. Billittier died in August 2000, and the restaurant now is operated by the couple’s children, Mary Beth and Louis John Billittier.
Ann Billittier managed Chef’s on her own in the 1950s while her husband served in the Korean War.
In addition to building their business together for decades, the Billittiers were devoted to helping the mentally ill, the physically challenged and the children of the community. Ann Billittier became a founding member of the Louis J. Billittier Foundation, named after her late husband, which supported groups as diverse as Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center, Bornhava, Variety Club of Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and others.
In a 1995 article for “Living Prime Time,” Mr. Billittier commented that he and his wife “were in grammar school together. I remember putting her pigtails in the inkwell at school. I remember getting into trouble for it, too.”
Later, despite the demands of their growing business, Mrs. Billittier continued to honor every Sunday as family day, closing the restaurant and keeping the family together on that day.
In March 2013, Ann Billittier and the Billittier family were honored by the Castiglia family at the annual St. Joseph’s Day Italian American dinner. At the dinner, Charles Castiglia, the owner of Lakeside Funeral Home in Hamburg, said that what made Ann Billittier and her family so special is not only the work they did for the community, but also their commitment to family.
She was known as a fixture at charity events, and this past month she joined her daughter Mary Beth in support of her son Lou’s chairmanship of the Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center Gala at the Seneca Niagara Event Center. In May 2012, the family joined together to support Bornhava school for children with special needs and was active in the live auction for her granddaughter Jenna. She had also been a member of the Variety Club Women and was active behind the scenes for two decades wearing the familiar red coat as she collected telethon pledges. She also joined the family for the presentation of the Louis J. Billittier Award to help area business leaders, and dinners in support of the Franciscan Center.
During a surprise honor for the Rev. Joe Bayne at a Billittier Foundation golf event the priest said, “Annie is true leader and inspiration.”
In February 2011, she and the family gathered to witness the unveiling of “Carvings for a Cause,” a statue made in honor of Lou Billittier from trees left from the devastating 2006 October Surprise storm.
Mrs. Billittier was a member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Athol Springs.
Survivors include her son and daughter.
Funeral arrangements, being handled by the Lakeside Funeral Home of Hamburg, are incomplete.