Longtime restaurant operator Nick Iaria dead at 75

Nicholas “Nick” Iaria, who is credited with turning Iaria’s Italian Restaurant into one of the city’s landmark eateries, has died at age 75.

Iaria, according to his obituary, died June 20. A cause of death was not listed. Services are scheduled for Monday starting at 10 a.m. with mass at 2 p.m. at St. Roch Catholic Church.

The grandson of Iaria’s founders Pete and Antonia Iaria, Nick Iaria began taking over restaurant operations from his father, Matthew Iaria, in the 1970s shortly after serving in Vietnam while in the U.S. Army.

Nick and his wife, Kathleen, who died in 2003, led the restaurant at 317 S. College Ave.—where it started in 1933 after 20 years as a grocery store—through a renovation and a menu update that added more contemporary Italian dishes such as fettuccine alfredo, chicken parmesan and veal piccata.

Under Nick’s direction, the business grew from a neighborhood eatery into a nationally known Italian restaurant frequently visited by celebrities and sports figures.

Nick was known for running to and from the kitchen to help cook family recipes while visiting with diners and walking guests to their cars after their meals. His high-energy efforts earned him the nickname “The Rocket.”

After a legal dispute in 2003, ownership of Iaria’s passed from Nick to four nephews and a niece—the fourth generation of the family to own the restaurant.

“With a heavy heart, we are sad to say our uncle, Nick Iaria, has passed away,” the current owners said on Facebook last week. “Many met Nick as the charismatic 3rd generation owner of the restaurant from the 80s, 90s, and into the 2000s. Nick and his late wife, Kathleen, were responsible for turning Iaria’s into a landmark spot for Italian food in the downtown area. He was one of a kind and will be missed. Rest In Peace Rocketman.”

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}