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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Eugenio Gaetano Gualtieri was born in 1903, in a small mountain village called Figline Vegliaturo, in the Province of Cosenza, Calabria Region, Italy. He was the first born son of Rosina Cundari and Gaetano Gualtieri. Eugenio had a brother, Gaetano, a very talented wood sculptor, who died at a young age from war injuries. Another brother, Anthony, died at the age 12, and a little sister, Ninetta, died at two months of age.

Eugenio immigrated to Canada at 14 years of age, accompanied by Stanislas Cundari, his future father-in-law. Like all other immigrants of that era, they did not have many jobs to choose from. Eugenio worked in the mines in Timmins, in the building of the Welland Canal, and in the automotive industry in Detroit, Michigan. He worked very hard to save enough money to become independent.

In 1930 he opened his first restaurant named Mario’s Restaurant, with his partner Mike (Mario Colonna - known as Mike Mario) at the foot of Ouellette Ave. and Sandwich Street (now Riverside Drive). In 1932, the restaurant relocated to Ouellette Ave., in front of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel pedestrian exit, near Wyandotte Street.

In 1939, a second restaurant was opened as Mario’s Pizzeria at Tecumseh and Ouellette Avenue, at Jackson Park. A third partner, Frank Cundari, joined the team. All three partners were boyhood friends in their hometown of Figline.

In 1931, Eugenio returned to Italy and married Adelina Cundari. They had four children, Rose, Ninetta, Tony and Linda.

In 1950, the restaurant in front of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel was closed and Mario's Tavern was opened at Ouellete Ave., near Elliot Street. Mario's Tavern along with Mario’s Pizzeria became Windsor’s prime fine dining establishments.

After the death of Michael Mario and Eugenio’s heart attack, both Mario’s Tavern and Mario’s Pizzeria were sold in 1965. Three years later, in 1968, Eugenio opened Geno’s Italian Village with his son, Tony, on Riverside Drive West, near the Cleary Auditorium. He went to work everyday and enjoyed greeting his customers with a smile.

After suffering several strokes, Eugenio was no longer able to do what he did best. He was a member of the Masonic Temple and a Shriner and played in the Shriner’s Oriental Band. Eugenio Gualtieri died in 1991 at the age of 88.

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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


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