HOUSTON – Family and friends are mourning Houston restaurateur and chef Tony Vallone who died Thursday. The restaurant said Vallone died peacefully of natural causes. He was 75.
Vallone was the founder of the restaurant Tony’s in Greenway Plaza and Tony’s Catering.
Donna Vallone, Tony’s wife of 36 years and partner, said, “I’ve lost the love of my life and best friend, but I will continue Tony’s legacy.”
According to a statement issued by the restaurant, Vallone’s wish was for Tony’s to continue. Tony’s staff and family will honor that wish and his legacy by resuming normal business operations after a brief closure from Thursday to Monday. The restaurant will reopen on Tuesday.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Tony’s has been in the Houston community for nearly 55 years.
Vallone’s best friends were heartbroken, saying Vallone was someone at the top of his industry but never forgot to give back.
“What made him the most happy was if you came and ate with him. He loved serving you food,” said David Greenberg, one of Vallone’s best friends.
Greenberg and Vallone spoke every day and had known each other for 45 years.
Vallone never knew a stranger, Greenberg said. Tony and Donna would help various charitable and community organizations, including Memorial Hermann Foundation, TEACH and the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College and more.
“Fantastic human being... (He was) kind, caring and loving,” Greenberg said.
Dr. E. Fred Aguilar said he knew Vallone for more than 40 years.
“He made his restaurant a place of solace to people who were down and out. To more than one of us he said, ‘Come make my restaurant your office and your home. This is the place where you can recoup and regenerate,’” Aguilar said. “This is his legacy. He knew no strangers. He was kind to everyone.”
Aguilar said Vallone loved bringing people together.
“He was taller than life and will remain so for years and years and years, and I hope his memory will live forever," Aguilar said.
KPRC 2′s Dominique Sachse interviewed Vallone last year. You can watch that segment below: