NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - The owner of one of the country's most beloved pizzeria's has died.
Gary Bimonte, operator of the New Haven-based Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, passed away, according to those who knew him.
His family said he was in his 60s and believe he suffered a heart attack.
Bimonte was Frank Pepe's grandson.
In a statement, Pepe's Pizza said
“Gary was the pride and joy of the Pepe’s family, and there are no words to express the immense void that his passing has left in our hearts. He truly loved and cherished our family’s history and he was so proud of the legacy that has carried through all these years.”
The New Haven location said it will be closed for all business on Thursday.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker offered his condolences.
"My condolences to the family of Gary Bimonte and the greater Pepe’s family," Elicker said. "They are an iconic institution not just in New Haven, but to the country. Their cultural contributions have a lasting impact on our nation’s culinary history. We will always remember Gary for the love he had for this City, his employees, and his family. Please keep his family in your thoughts."
Mr. Bimonte's Pizza in Cheshire posted its condolences to the family.
"A very nice man, gone too soon," the restaurant wrote on social media. "Rest well. We are so extremely sorry for your family’s loss."
“He was very much about the history of his pizza, this history of his family, the history of this street, the history of this city,” said Paul Duda, who met Gary nearly 30 years ago when he opened up his photo studio on Wooster Street.
With the restaurant closed for the day, Duda offered a wave as he walked by, thinking of a man who, no doubt, has left his mark on the city and pizza lovers, who came from around the world, to grab a slice of the Elm City.
“Gary loved what he did, and that was pretty obvious. Even with all the expansion, this is still it,” Duda said.