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Prominent Meriden restaurant owner remembered

MERIDEN — Paul Giacobbe’s life centered on his family and his restaurant.

Giacobbe, 77, died Sunday after a lengthy illness. He owned and operated Jacoby’s Restaurant on East Main Street, formerly My Dad’s Restaurant, for 38 years.

Wife Ofelia Delgado Giacobbe met Paul Giacobbe when she managed a second restaurant that he opened in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Ofelia said Paul was the type of owner who would be at his restaurant every day and earned the loyalty of his employees.

Bob Devaney was one of those employees. Devaney, who worked for Giacobbe for 30 years, called him “the finest gentlemen I’ve ever known in my life” and said Jacoby’s was “the greatest place I’ve ever worked.”

Sister-in-law Gladys Cardona said she wasn’t surprised Giacobbe inspired such feelings. “Everybody liked working there,” she said.

Daughter Lisette Giacobbe said she spent her childhood helping her parents run Jacoby’s. The restaurant business is “now in my blood,” said Lisette, who still works in the industry.

Joe Luca, a friend of over 50 years, sometimes helped Giacobbe at the restaurant. The two met in business school in 1962. Luca said Giacobbe was a savvy businessman.

The Rev. Dave Carey of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, where Giacobbe was a parishioner, also remembers him from Jacoby’s. He and other priests used to eat at the restaurant regularly, he said.

“He was just a wonderful gentleman,” Carey said.

Carey said Giacobbe was very generous to both Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and Our Lady of Mount Carmel School.

Cardona recalls Giacobbe’s magnanimous spirit. “Whatever he had, he would give you,” she said.

Ofelia Giacobbe knew her husband best of all. “He never had a bad word to say about anyone,” she said.

Ofelia said she will always remember his “funny ways.”

She recalls his distinctive wave. “I can still see him doing it,” she said.

Ofelia said Paul was very good at maintaining their home. But she did not realize how much work he put into the house until the last few years when his health deteriorated.

Lisette Giacobbe remembers her father’s work ethic. She recalls him constantly tinkering with his recipes in the kitchen, trying to perfect them.

Lisette also remembers her father’s delight in one of his other favorite pastimes, playing poker in casinos.

His affinity for cards became a family joke, Lisette said. She said his excursions to Mohegan Sun became known as “going into the office.”

Lisette said her father also reveled in getting to know his granddaughter, her own daughter Sage. “She was the light of his life,” said Lisette.

Luca said he and Giacobbe were friends through the births of all their children and grandchildren, as well as marriages and all the other major moments of each other’s lives.

“I would have given him my right arm,” Luca said.

Carey said Giacobbe elicited those types of sentiments from many people.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in this town who didn’t know him,” he said. “We’re all gonna miss him.”



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