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Irene P. Gadawski, 92, operated landmark Niagara Falls restaurant with her husband

June 19, 1926 – April 29, 2019

Irene P. Gadawski, who owned and operated the landmark Gadawski’s Restaurant with her husband in Niagara Falls, died April 29 in Niagara Hospice House, Lockport. She was 92.

While her husband manned the bar, greeting customers, telling stories and turning it into a nationally renowned shrine to Notre Dame football, she was in the kitchen.

“My dad was the spokesperson and she was the one that kept it all going. She was the glue,” said her daughter, Mary Beth Nugent. “She was a very hardworking woman.”

Born in Niagara Falls, she was the second of three daughters of Anthony and Catherine Jankowski, who established Jankowski’s Restaurant on East Falls Street in what once was the heart of the city’s Polish community. They lived upstairs.

She attended Holy Trinity School and was a graduate of Niagara Falls High School, going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in dietary services from Rochester Institute of Technology.

She worked at first as a dietitian at what was then Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital, her daughter said, “but her mom died young and she took over.”

In 1948, she married Edward L. Gadawski, who grew up on the same block, in a ceremony in Holy Trinity Catholic Church, next door to her family’s restaurant. They took over ownership of the business in 1951, moved in upstairs and changed the name. Over the years, it became a favorite of lawyers and politicians.

Mrs. Gadawski preserved her mother’s recipes for pierogi and other Polish dishes.

“But she liked to find her own thing,” her daughter noted. “She made all the dressings we use and the marinades.”

She retired about 10 years ago. Mary Beth and two of her brothers, Bob and Fred, now operate the restaurant.

Mrs. Gadawski shared her husband’s passion for Notre Dame football, attending many games with him in South Bend, Ind., and going with him to all their postseason bowl appearances.

She was a volunteer at the former St. Mary’s Manor for many years. A parishioner at Holy Trinity Church, she was a member of the Mothers Club. She also was a member of the Echo Society.

She was especially fond of her grandchildren and supported them in all their activities.

Her husband died in 2017.

In addition to her sons and daughter, survivors include another son, Anthony; 14 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

A private Mass of Christian Burial will be offered in the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Worship Site of Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Parish, 27th Street and Independence Avenue. A public memorial celebration will be held June 15 at a location to be announced.

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