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Jeswald J. “Joe” Jacobbi, Casa-di-Pizza founder

June 22, 1924 – May 19, 2015

Jeswald J. “Joe” Jacobbi, founder of Casa-di-Pizza, a widely known restaurant on Elmwood Avenue for more than 60 years, died Tuesday in Buffalo General Medical Center. He was 90.

Born in Batavia, he was a graduate of Batavia High School and served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II.

With $2,000 cash and a $1,000 loan from his family, Mr. Jacobbi quit his job as a window trimmer and opened a small pizza shop on the corner of Elmwood and Hodge Street in 1953, a time before pizza was popular. Employing only one waitress and a cook, he worked 15-hour days.

Over the years, he and his three sons expanded the shop into a full-service restaurant, tavern and banquet room and established branches in Sarasota and Bradenton, Fla.

Pizza Today, a trade magazine, listed Casa-di-Pizza among the top independent pizzerias in the nation for five consecutive years.

Mr. Jacobbi and his restaurant were cited on their 60th anniversary by former State Sen. Mark Grisanti, who declared Nov. 27, 2013, as Casa-di-Pizza Day in Erie County and New York State.

In recent years, he spent winters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

He was president of the Maybury Mansions Association in Fort Lauderdale.

Survivors include his wife, the former Marjorie Roberts; three sons, Joseph, James and Jeffrey; four sisters, Anne Schreckenberger, Grace Reinhardt, Louise and Florence Worden; a brother, Carmen; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church, 51 Colonial Circle.

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