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A Century of Serving: 94-Year-old Resident Runs City Restaurant

Stella Stango Cocchiola, owner of Stango's Restaurant, continues to work at 94.

On Jan. 5, 2011, Stella Stango Cocchiola turned 94 years old, but has no plans to retire.

Instead, Cocchiola works everyday doing what she loves most: maintaining , which her family started in 1919.

Cocchiola's mother and father both emigrated from Italy and met in America, she said. Her father, Frank, originally worked in the sterling silver and flatware industry in Brooklyn, but after falling ill from the harmful fumes and toxins, the couple decided to move to the countryside in Glen Cove.

While Frank continued to commute to the city, Cocchiola said that he would often return home to Glen Cove with fruit. 

"He would bring great, big bunches of bananas, and people would see them and they’d say, ‘can’t we buy some from you?’” she said.

Cocchiola said that her parents then decided to start a business by putting a few tables together and making lunch for the people who went to work.

After her father passed away, Cocchiola became her mother’s right hand.

“She was fantastic and strong,” Cocchiola recalled. “She had the business brain, really.”

As a student at St. Patrick's School, Cocchiola said she was eased into the business. She began by helping her mother with customers and the succeeding generations of her family followed suit. Her sons are now in charge, and her grandchildren are waiters at Stango's.

“I always loved people, and talking to people,” she said. “I used to sit with whoever I served and they would tell me their stories, lots of very interesting stories.”

Since its inception, the restaurant, located on Grove Street, has developed a loyal band of customers.

“Those people that are sitting there have been coming here since they were just kids,” she said, pointing to a table of four individuals. She continued to look around the room, recognizing the familiar faces of those who have frequented the restaurant for years.

“See the girl who’s sitting here in front of me with the red hat? We grew up together.”

The dining room this evening is warm, friendly and full of smiling families, a wonderful alternative to the frigid temperatures just outside the door. Bluesy classics play in the background, giving the freshly cooked food an extra home-style feel.

“It’s like having company every night, and you don’t have to reciprocate,” Cocchiola said.

Aside from diligently answering the phones, taking down orders, and going over the menu with the chef, Cocchiola keeps busy with her favorite hobby: drawing.

In addition to serving up hearty Italian meals for almost a century, Cocchiola showcases her artistic talent. Scenic paintings of landscapes and animals are spread across every wall of the dining room.

“The thing that I love the most, is when people say, ‘When I come here, I’m home.’”

Mike bradley February 02, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Great family and great food. Mike Bradley. UK.
Mark Deutsch February 03, 2011 at 12:12 AM
My family and I have been visiting Stango's for over 60 years. A tradition of warmth and comfort, good food, and some of the best pizza anywhere on earth. This IS the real deal.
amy halpern February 03, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Stella , you are why this restaurant has thrived. Stangos was always our home away from home. I remember going since i was a little girl - I had my first baked ziti there and my first pizza. I have so many fond memories of our family and friends having dinner there. You are amazing. My best to you and your family. I dont know if you remember my dad . He is turning 85 this month. Take care, Amy Halpern
joseph D'Ambrosio February 04, 2011 at 04:20 AM
How often do we say that we miss the "old" days. Well come down to Stango's, they are still there and you can get great food too. You truly feel like you have come home.
Karen Nielsen February 05, 2011 at 10:52 PM
My favorite restaurant! My family and I have been coming here since I was a child. Stella is the heart and soul of this great little restaurant with its warm and cozy atmosphere and stomach-pleasing Italian food. Best pizza anywhere. Karen Nielsen
Safia Sattaur February 08, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Just heard that Newsday is doing a story on Stella now. Guess Newsday is reading checking out our site as well! Good job!
glenna jones February 09, 2011 at 07:37 PM
....love this place...the owners are pretty cool too!
John Cocchiola February 09, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Thanks everyone! Don't forget, come see us on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights for our reduced price ($8.95) pasta specials. Bring the kids, leave the dog at home :-( wish they could come in too.
Roni Jenkins February 09, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Such a great family restaurant. Great article. Stella is so sweet- like everyone's Grandmother. One winter she even gave my kids some hats she had knitted herself.
Gabe Cocchiola February 10, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Thanks for all the kind words....come see us on Valentine's Day (Mon the 14th)
Maureen Madden November 10, 2011 at 09:13 PM
Hi Ronnie! Its me, Mo (Halloween!!) Me, my husband and the 3 grandkids all have Stella-made hats! We ought to start a club!
J smith December 28, 2011 at 01:07 PM
John get off the computer and weed whack the weeds out back near your dumpsters your property looks run down pride on local level before you want to correct the counrty problems !

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