|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.