MERIDEN — The longtime manager at the American Steakhouse will retire at the end of the month after 45 years with the restaurant.
David Tacinelli, 61, began work at the steakhouse as a bus person when he was 16 years old. He became a manager 13 years later.
“I’ve fed generations,” Tacinelli said.
Tacinelli said that the customers are the main reason he stayed for as long as he did. Some were children when he first met them. Now, they visit with their children and sometimes grandchildren.
“So many marriages I’ve seen from here – it’s mind boggling,” Tacinelli said. “I’ve seen customers pass away...and gone to wakes and funerals.
“I’ve made a lot of friends,” he added. “There’s people here that I’ve met, we’ll be friends forever.”
Tacinelli met his wife Angela by the drink fountain on her first day of work at the restaurant, located at 1170 E. Main St. In June, the two will celebrate 40 years of marriage.
Owner Isabel Tartaglia said she will be sad when Tacinelli leaves because he is such a fixture at the restaurant. She called him a dedicated employee.
”He treated the place like it was his own. Every customer knows him. When they walk in he knows everybody by face, everybody by name,” Tartaglia said. “He’s kind of like the face of Meriden.”
Tacinelli would like to stay, but is retiring to focus on his health. He has had diabetes since the age of 17 and has found it difficult recently. His last day of work will be March 31, but he will visit occasionally.
“The next step is to get healthy,” Tacinelli said. “I need to get my diabetes under better control and lose weight. I’m not going to lose weight here because after (45) years I still love this food.”
Customers have told him how much they will miss him and that he has become part of their lives.
“I get choked up just talking about it,” Tacinelli said. “It’s been a run.”
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