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Restaurateur, 94, still going in Glen Cove

Stella Stango Cocchiola poses with her family and

Stella Stango Cocchiola poses with her family and staff at her century-old restaurant, Stango's, in Glen Cove. (Jan. 12, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

The nature of the economy has had many restaurateurs opening and closing their places of business within the same year. But one Glen Cove restaurant has endured the Great Depression, a destructive fire and nearly a century’s time.

Stella Stango Cocchiola has been working at Stango’s Italian Restaurant in Glen Cove, which opened in 1919, for as long as she can remember. Her father, a New York City factory foreman who produced silver flatware, was plagued by black lung believed to have stemmed from inhaling the factory’s fumes. His doctor told him he needed to pack up and move to the country to manage the disease, so the Stango’s made their way out to Glen Cove.

Cocchiola said her father would always bring fresh fruit home with him whenever he returned to the city to visit his doctor.

“Oh, couldn’t we buy some from you?” Cocchiola said, imitating her neighbors.

Eventually, her parents started selling cups of coffee to go with the fruit at a little stand they had set up in front of their home. That progressed into tables, chairs and dinner.

“You could be the richest man in the world, sitting next to the poorest and you’d be treated the same,” Cocchiola said.

She has kept that tradition going, along with her two sons, John and Gabriel. The family business serves up pasta, pizza, salads, and anything else a customer could ask for, and they have served everyone from a Russian prime minister to a poor soldier just home from the first World War.

Cocchiola smiled as she recalled the World War I fighter pilot, who she remembers as Orb, wandering into the restaurant telling her tales of his times in the sky.

The restaurant also gave some local celebrities their start. Former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi held one of his earliest jobs at Stango’s, along with his cousin Ralph, who currently serves as the city’s mayor.

It’s a place of history for its customers as well. Maureen and Arthur Madden have been going to Stango’s nearly twice a week since they met in 1999.

“It’s like having dinner at your friend’s or your family’s house. You’re not going to a restaurant,” Maureen Madden said.

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