It’s Friday in Wine Country and in West View, Pa. Angelo Cammarata has counted the register for the last time at his bar,Cammarata’s Caf?. The 95 year old owner is retiring after tending bar for 77 years and has sold the caf?.
For the past week’s, the news on Cammarata has spread through the media like a
Yet the award that “Ang”, as he is called, deserves is the “World’s Best Restaurant Owner”. In 1933, when he was merely a puppy, he saw the profitability in beer. His father, an Italian immigrant, owned a grocery store but soon decided to branch out and built a bar. Ang has been in the business ever since. That in itself is remarkable. Award winning accomplishments like that don’t happen anymore. Guys like Cammarata don’t happen anymore.
For over 70 years Cammarata has owned – with the exception of a few years when he sold the bar but worked there as a bartender, and then bought it back- a restaurant. His secret was keeping it simple, working the space and paying attention.
Cammarata grew up, worked, and owned his bar when a customer- male or female- was “sweetheart”, when a C-note lasted a weekend, and when the house bought a drink. Cammarata could watch as the sun streamed through the front window, highlighting the cloud of smoke – from Chesterfields, Marlboros and Viceroys -hovering just above eye level- and knew whether the bar had a busy or slow day. Cammarata would cover your tab until payday. He’d cover your ass if need be and. he’d give you a sound word of advice if you had eyes for your neighbors wife.
His customers became friends and family. He didn’t follow fad or fame. He kept his eye on the inventory. And the till. He knew his customers and his staff. His menu was simple- burgers, fries and wings. His drinks were poured from a bottle, not a blender. His caf? had entertainment – a pool table, a juke box and a T.V. His son, Johnny, eventually became one of the owners and also tended bar. Cammarata showed up, every day.
As he became more successful he didn’t have visions of franchising, opening another location, going public, or catering to anyone, stars included.
He kept it simple, added some stories, conversation. He offered an ear to troubled customers and continued to be a friend, a priest, a psychologist and a good business man. He built a home for his family, raised three kids, preached to his sons who worked the bar that “Beer was to sell, not to drink”.
His work standards were high, his ethics were solid and he paid his vendors. He offered help to those who needed it, took listened to comments and advice, and gave guidance to those who entered his spotless restaurant.
He didn’t complicate the simplicity of serving the public. Even his sign, bidding adieu simply says it all.
Ang, congratulations. Be well.