Thu Sep 06, 2007, 05:14 PM EDT
Friends are still "numb," family is devastated, and the
community is incredulous.
To a person, everyone who knew beloved Irondequoit restaurateur
Jesse Guido speaks about his welcoming personality and smile, his
warm and caring heart and his overwhelming generosity.
"He was one of the greatest guys I'll ever know," said
best friend Jamie Zolnierowski. "He just gave and gave and
gave ... He'd give you the shirt off his back without question;
and he never asked anything in return."
"He was one of the most generous individuals I've ever known
in my life," echoed Irondequoit Police Officer Jim Frascati.
"He brought people together; he was a professional at keeping
people together in a positive way."
Jessie Guido, owner of Irondequoit's popular Guido's Pasta Villa
at 1313 E. Ridge Road for the past 15 years, died suddenly and unexpectedly
while on vacation in St. Pete Beach, Fla. Monday, Sept. 3, 2007.
He was 42.
Zolnierowski, who was with him in Florida, said Mr. Guido had
"the perfect day" last Thursday, Aug. 30, doing what he
loved to do.
His friend had missed his flight that day to Florida and was rerouted
to Orlando, he recalled, but took it all in stride, arriving and
renting a red Mustang convertible to drive the about two hours to
meet his friends.
They went shopping, stopped for fast food, fished off a pier in
Tampa Bay until 11:30 p.m., and stayed up past midnight to wish
Zolnierowski a "happy birthday."
"That was the last time I ever heard him speak back to me,"
Zolnierowski said, choking back tears.
When Mr. Guido awoke Friday morning, Zolnierowski said he was
breathing irregularly, then stopped breathing. Paramedics were able
to get his heart restarted at the hospital, "but the damage
was already done," he said.
Friends and family still aren't sure of the cause of Mr. Guido's
death. The family chose not to do an autopsy.
"It was just unexpected; it's a shock," said his father,
Chic Guido, Tuesday. "He was such a giving person."
"He gave his heart and soul to everybody," agreed friend
Lisa Ferrin. "All I can think is of all the people's lives
he touched, not just in Rochester, but everywhere."
He'll miss the guidance Mr. Guido provided, said Rich Pagano,
who added that they had been friends for 18 years.
"He welcomed me to the Ridge," where they both had businesses
at the time, "and we've been friends ever since," Pagano
said. "He was a friend, father and confidant all in one."
Pagano said Mr. Guido grew up at 18 Alandale Drive in the Ogden/Chili
area and graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School.
"He was a very intelligent man," he said.
Mr. Guido went on to earn a degree in marketing from the University
"He was a fanatic about food; he knew he wanted to open a
restaurant," Pagano recalled.
Mr. Guido first worked for about two years at the former 2001
of Rochester nightclub in Chili, Zolnierowski said, then spent a
total of five years working in and managing the restaurant at the
Holiday Inn Airport.
There was a brief stint when his friend tried selling insurance,
Zolnierowski said, "but he found out it wasn't for him."
He purchased Irondequoit's Pasta Villa restaurant, renaming it
Guido's Pasta Villa, about 15 years ago and relocated to Irondequoit
about the same time.
He was known for personally greeting all of his customers and
making everyone feel at home.
"He was such an icon; he was Mr. Irondequoit, as far as we're
concerned," said Sue Roe, co-owner of Irondequoit's Keenan's
restaurant, located not far from Pasta Villa.
She said Mr. Guido often would stop by Keenan's, as she and partner
Jim Romano would stop by Pasta Villa.
Romano said that in the more than 15 years he went to Mr. Guido's
restaurant, he never ordered anything but the pork chops.
"They're the best I've ever had in my life," Romano
Beyond Pasta Villa's food, however, Mr. Guido "brought a
lot of joy and laughter to a lot of people," Romano said.
"Every time he'd come in (to Keenan's), he'd light up the
whole place," Romano recalled. "It was like a release
for him to go to someone else's place."
Irondequoit Police Investigator Steve Rosenbaum said Mr. Guido's
death "is a great loss to the community."
"He made us all feel like family," he said. "It
(Pasta Villa) was just our home away from home."
Mr. Guido wasn't just a great friend, he added, but also was like
"But that's just not me," Rosenbaum said. "He was
like that to hundreds of local people who went to Pasta Villa."
Mr. Guido was known for "giving back" to the community
in a variety of ways, but always quietly.
"He always found time to do something special for someone,"
Pagano said. "But he didn't like or expect to get something
in return ... He was just one of the most giving people out there."
Mr. Guido not only supported children's charities like Golisano
Children's Hospital, but also schools, the Irondequoit police department,
and even acquaintances in need.
Pagano recalled that when his friend heard about a person he knew
who had had a car accident, but had no health insurance, Mr. Guido
sent money to help with the hospital bills.
Both the Irondequoit Police Department and the department's police
union presented him with awards in 2003.
"Jesse was a great supporter of this department and was respected
by almost every officer," said Police Chief Richard Boyan.
"He had a special place in our hearts."
Mr. Guido was also recognized by the Irondequoit Chamber of Commerce
as both a Business of the Month and Business of the Year in Irondequoit.
Mr. Guido was also one of the most organized people, "right
down to packing his suitcase," Pagano said. He said Mr.
Guido also enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his
two children, playing on the computer and fishing when he had the
Mr. Guido was the one last Thursday night who went around baiting
everyone's fishing lines and taking the fish they caught off the
hooks, Zolnierowski said.
"His personality was just one of a kind," he said.
Zolnierowski said Mr. Guido also loved to entertain, and would
often show up at a party with bubbles or kites for everyone.
"He loved to shop at the dollar store," he laughed.
Zolnierowski, who is a bartender on Saturday nights at Pasta Villa,
said one of Mr. Guido's hobbies was chess.
"And he was an excellent player," he said with a chuckle.
"Out of five games, I'd beat him maybe only once."
He said his friend also loved the outdoors and had a cabin he
enjoyed in Allegany County.
Frascati said Mr. Guido also traveled with him to Italy and LasVegas,
and was a practical joker.
He recalled the time Mr. Guido had a mask made of him and passed
them out around town. "No matter where I was that night, it
was me looking at myself," Frascati recalled.
"He was a family man, a businessman and had a great sense
of humor," Frascati said. "He worked hard, but he enjoyed
Calling hours for Mr. Guido will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday,
Sept. 7, at Dreier-Giltner Funeral Home, 1717 Portland Ave., which
also made the arrangements.
His funeral Mass is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at Christ the
King Church, 445 Kings Highway S. Interment will be at Irondequoit
Mr. Guido is survived by his children, son Zachary Guido and daughter
Nicollette Guido; his best friend and loving companion, Karen Riola,
and her children, Christopher and Stephanie DeFazio; parents, Betty
Guido and Chic (Dottie) Guido, all of Irondequoit; brother Frank
(Shauna) Guido of Irondequoit; niece and nephew, Juliette and Frank
Guido, of Webster; and many friends, especially his beloved "gang."
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that people make donations
in Mr. Guido's memory to Strong
Children's Center or any children's charity of choice.