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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Downtown Gainesville Italian restaurant reopens after owner's death

Amelia’s was closed for two months

<p>The dining room is set at Amelia&#x27;s Fine Italian Cuisine on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.</p>

The dining room is set at Amelia's Fine Italian Cuisine on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

Amelia’s reopened its doors Thursday to the general public for the first time since its owner, Andy Fass, died.

The Italian eatery, located on 235 S Main St., was closed to the general public for nearly two months after the loss of Fass, a man just as well-regarded for his character as he was for his food. The 45-year-old died on Aug. 26.

Fass was not Amelia’s first owner. The man who would become known for his culinary mastery had received his law degree from the University of Florida but ultimately decided that the legal profession was not for him.  

While visiting his sister in Vermont in the early 2000s, Fass formally embarked on his culinary journey by beginning his studies at the New England Culinary Institute. He ultimately bought Amelia’s in 2007 with his mission not only being to serve delicious dinners but to give patrons a warm dining experience.      

Lisa Zucker, Fass’ 41-year-old sister, said she looked forward to welcoming guests back to dine at her late brother’s restaurant. She has no doubt the restaurant will continue to be a success.

“His servers are all the same that were there before he passed away,” she said.   

Zucker said guests can now once again enjoy the variety of veal options, as well as one of her personal favorites, the Crostini NY –– a crispy bread with spinach and artichoke parmesan cheese. Some other options on the menu include the Surf and Turf Adriatico with the choice of either a grilled NY strip or Bistro filets, the Lobster Ravioli Alfonso served with a marinara cream sauce and Linguini Bolognese, a pasta dish including carrots and ground beef.     

“When people come to eat at the restaurant, that’s the greatest gift for us: keeping his legacy alive,” she said.  

Juan Calama, 44, an attorney who was Fass’ roommate in law school at UF, said he had different emotions while anticipating the restaurant’s reopening.  

“The sense of him being not physically present, obviously, it makes us sad,” Calama said. “But it makes us also happy to know that his legacy continues.” 

Gainesville residents Pete and Lani McQuade said they have been going to Amelia’s since before Fass became its owner in 2007. The couple visted the restaurant Friday night.

Lani McQuade reminisced about how diligent Fass was in greeting his guests, making them feel welcome and often entertaining them with a musical surprise.

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“If it was a special occasion, like a birthday, he’d come out with his saxophone,” she said.

Pete McQuade noted how accommodating Fass had been in his life especially when he would enter the restaurant with very large parties. 

Although he was sad to hear of Fass’ passing, he said the restaurant’s standards continue to impress.    

“We are ecstatic that they’re open again,” he said. “We just hope that it continues. Gainesville needs a really wonderful restaurant like Amelia’s.”      

Contact Omar at Follow him on Twitter @OAteyah.

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Omar Ateyah

Omar is a second-year journalism major and news assistant for The Alligator.  He enjoys going on long, thoughtful walks. 

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