May 17, 1933 – Dec. 22, 2018
Jean M. Stefano grew up in a family of restaurateurs.
When she was a girl, her mother, Rose Lazzaro Nixon, worked at Oliver’s and the 31 Club, then opened the Good Oak Lunch at North Oak and Goodell streets in the 1940s with her brother, John Guida.
Guida then founded John and Mary’s Subs in 1952. In 1957, her mother, joined by Mrs. Stefano’s older sister, Antoinette “Nina” Scioli, and Nina’s husband, opened an Italian restaurant, Mama Rose’s, at Kensington and Olympic avenues.
Mrs. Stefano, who went on to own and operate John and Mary’s Subs shops, died unexpectedly Saturday in her Amherst home. She was 85.
Born in Buffalo, the former Jean M. Lazzaro was a 1951 graduate of Kenmore High School and worked with her mother and uncle in the Good Oak Lunch.
She and her husband, John C. Stefano, were married in 1958 and became owners and operators of the Good Oak Lunch after her mother opened Mama Rose’s. They sold it in 1960.
She and her husband opened a John and Mary’s on Millersport Highway near Campbell Boulevard in Getzville in 1971 and owned another location in Lockport from 1978 to 2005.
She retired about 10 years ago, but remained a co-owner of the Millersport Highway shop and regularly stopped in. Her daughters, Romy Stefano and Sandra Stefano-Stypa, own and operate the business.
“She’d come in and talk to customers,” Romy said. “She was there Friday night and she passed away less than 24 hours later.”
A devoted sports fan, she owned harness horses in the 1970s and raced them at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs. She also was a Buffalo Bills season ticket holder for many years and attended three Super Bowls.
Her husband died in 2010.
In addition to her daughters, survivors include a brother, Frank Lazzara; and two grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1700 North French Road, Getzville.