SANDUSKY - Maria Barone, 84, a Sicilian native who with her late husband, George, owned and operated three Italian restaurants here, died Sunday in Providence Care Center.
The death followed a battle with Alzheimer's disease, the family said.
The Barones in the early 1960s founded what is now the Cedar Villa Italian Grill and Bar at Cleveland Road and Cedar Point Drive.
Along with its large menu and made-from-scratch Italian cuisine, the restaurant was known for its late hours - opening for lunch at 11 a.m. and not closing until 4 a.m.
While Mrs. Barone took meal orders, prepared food, and cooked it for the supper crowd, her husband worked the midday shift and the early mornings, her daughter, Sister Ann Carmen Barone, said.
"They did Italian food, they did American food, they did everything - and it was all very good," said Sister Ann Carmen, who at one time helped in the restaurant along with her brothers, Joseph and Donald.
Born as Maria Calabrese in Modica, Sicily, she and Mr. Barone met while growing up and married in 1944. Mr. Barone was a U.S. citizen, who was born in Cleveland but grew up in Sicily. He died in 1988.
They settled in Sandusky in 1950 and worked together at a restaurant owned by Mr. Barone's brother, John, before opening George and Maria's on Cleveland Road in the late 1950s.
They soon closed that restaurant to open the larger Cedar Villa. In the late 1970s, the couple opened Barone's Roman Villa, which closed about 1990.
A self-taught cook, Mrs. Barone proved herself to be "the type of person who could cook anything," her son, Donald Barone, said. The restaurants featured many of her unique dishes, including her ravioli and chicken Parmesan with homemade dough.
Surviving are her daughter, Sister Ann Carmen Barone; sons, Joseph and Donald Barone; sisters, Concetta Spadaro and Sarafina Giannone; four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be after 3 p.m. today in the David F. Koch Funeral Home, Sandusky, where a prayer service will be at 6:30 p.m. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Sandusky.
The family suggests tributes to the church, Stein Hospice Service in Sandusky, or Providence Care Center also in Sandusky.
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