Vincent “Bubba” Mandola, part of a Houston family restaurant dynasty, died Sunday of heart failure after fighting COVID-19, his family announced on social media.
Mandola, whose restaurants include Nino’s, Vincent’s, Grappino di Nino and Pronto Cucino, was a pioneer in the local restaurant industry.
His nephew, Johnny Carrabba, who is also a restaurateur (Carraba’s, Mia’s Table, Grace’s) said his uncle was an inspiration.
“I am fortunate to have worked with him but was more fortunate to be his nephew,” said Carrabba. “I learned the restaurant business from him but learned a lot more about how to be a gentleman and a hard worker.”
Carrabba said that although Vincent Mandola had a strong work ethic, he always made time for his family.
“He never missed a family function,” said Carrabba. “He had six grandchildren. He never missed their school events. I think that is more of a tribute to him than anything else.”
Johnny Mandola, Vincent Mandola’s cousin and the general manager at Midtown’s Damian’s Cucina Italiana, echoed Carrabba’s sentiments.
“Our family has been texting memories and stories about what a great guy he was. He loved his daughters, Vinceanne and Dana Mandola,” said Johnny Mandola.
Johnny Mandola said even at age 77, his cousin was still involved in operating his restaurants.
“I respected him. I could always call him to ask questions,” said Johnny Mandola. “He always had a mind about what to do next in the industry. He paved the way to how to run a restaurant: customer service, great food and hard work.”
In their social media post, the Mandola’s said Vincent Mandola “dedicated his life to his family and was a devoted husband and an amazing father, and papa. His restaurants were an extension of his home and he welcomed each guest with warmth and attentiveness, like famiglia (family).”
The family also asked for privacy during this time, along with continued prayers.
“He had the best sense of humor of anyone I have ever met. It’s a huge loss for our family,” said Carrabba. “I don’t think you’ll hear anyone say a negative word about my uncle. He was a man of his word.”