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Russo, a longtime local restauranteur, dies at 60

May 29, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Longtime Fort Myers Beach restauranteur Alfredo Russo died early this morning, according to business associate Joe Orlandini. Russo was 60.

Russo, who operates Junkanoo on the Beach, the Fresh Catch Bistro and the Sunset Beach Tropical Grill, suffered a ruptured aorta in his chest Friday and eventually went into surgery at HealthPark Medical Center at around 2 a.m. this morning, Orlandini said. It was too late to save him.

Orlandini said Russo's son was able to be at his side, flying in from California when he was informed of his father's grave condition.

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Alfredo Russo

"The guy's a legend," said Orlandini of Russo, who recently expanded his operations with the opening of the Sunset Beach Tropical Grill in Times Square in November. "It's like the president here on the island, if there was such a thing, has died. He's definitely an icon and has friends all over. This sad news will reach far and wide."

Russo took over the site where the Junkanoo sits in 1987 when the establishment was called the Pelican. He later opened the Fresh Catch Bistro next door. Last year, the land was sold to Orlandini and his partner and both buildings will eventually be demolished to make way for single-family homes.

Orlandini led Russo to another property, the former Top o' the Mast, which was remodeled before re-opening as the Sunset Beach Tropical Grill.

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Anita Cereceda, a longtime island resident and two-time mayor, called Russo "an iconic figure in the business community whose restaurants are loved by many of us who live here and those who visit the island every year."

Indeed, Russo's waterfront restaurants had a strong and loyal following with both residents and tourists. Russo was a hands-on operator, holding court at the Junkanoo with friends and guests day in and day out.

"From the great dinners he served for all of us to enjoy, to the huge personality he had, he made a huge impact on this island and was a great man at heart," Orlandini said. "He will be very much missed and never forgotten."



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