on May 13, 2014 - 8:10 AM
, updated May 13, 2014 at 8:37 AM
Oct. 16, 1936 – May 11, 2014
Vito Rizzo, a retired restaurant owner, died Sunday in his Williamsville home. He was 77.
Mr. Rizzo and his wife, the former RoseMary Hurliman, founded Rizzo’s Casa di Italia restaurant on Brighton Road in the Town of Tonawanda in 1980. The restaurant is still run by their son, Michael, who also runs five other restaurants in Amherst.
Although Mr. Rizzo officially left the restaurant when his son took over in 1987, he served as an “unofficial consultant,” helping out at all his son’s restaurants until the last few weeks of his life.
Mr. Rizzo was especially proud in late March when his son opened his latest restaurant – Vito E Vino on Transit Road – and named it for him. Other restaurants run under the Rizzo family banner are Banchetti’s, Cafe Banchetti, Schnitzel & Co. and Rizotto Ristorante.
Born and educated in Buffalo, Mr. Rizzo worked at several pizzerias before opening his own pizza shop – the old Pico’s on Bailey Avenue – around 1970.
He and his wife opened Rizzo’s a decade later.
After turning Rizzo’s over to his son, Mr. Rizzo worked as a car salesman for 14 years. He initially worked for Don Davis Pontiac in Amherst and later at Skill Buick in Tonawanda.
For 47 years, he was a parish member and volunteer at St. Amelia Catholic Church in the Town of Tonawanda.
He was an expert carpenter, and he enjoyed singing at family gatherings.
Survivors, besides his wife of 56 years and his son, Michael, include another son, Christopher; five daughters, Kathleen Rizzo Young, Laura Rizzo, Karen Haley, Sharon O’Sullivan and Jennifer Hatfield; three sisters, Sophie Santora, Palma Bohn and Elizabeth Perez; and 11 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9 a.m. Thursday in St. Amelia Church, 2999 Eggert Road, Town of Tonawanda.