Aug. 7, 1946 – Dec. 25, 2022
Al Rohloff, who with his wife Rose Mary served up sausage sandwiches, stuffed peppers and spaghetti parm at DiTondo's, one of Buffalo's oldest continuously running restaurants, for almost 35 years, died Dec. 25 in Mercy Nursing Facility at OLV after a short illness. He was 76.
The restaurant, which dated to the 1880s and had been at 370 Seneca St. near Louisiana Street since 1934, was a favorite lunch and dinner destination for South Buffalo politicians and officers from the nearby Buffalo Police Department garage.
When the Rohloffs retired and closed the restaurant in 2018, Rep. Brian Higgins told Buffalo News reporter Maki Becker that his children grew up having Friday dinner at DiTondo’s.
“That goes back 25 years,” he said. “Al and Rose Mary, they’re like family to us. … We just have very fond memories. You talk about a consummate family restaurant. It was and it always will be.”
Higgins brought guests from around the world to DiTondo's, including Irish Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
Born in Buffalo, Alan Rohloff was drafted into the Army after he graduated from Kensington High School and was stationed in Germany.
He and Rose Mary DiTondo, a granddaughter of founder Sibastiano DiTondo, were married May 29, 1971. He helped in the restaurant and learned the family recipes.
When Mrs. DiTondo’s father, Amedeo "Emmers" DiTondo, died in 1982, both Mr. Rohloff and his wife left their jobs to help her mother run the restaurant. He had been a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service for 17 years and she was a clerk in City Court. They bought the business in 1984.
Mr. Rohloff and his wife were well-known for their support of charities and sponsored several annual fundraising events, include the End of Summer Party, a backyard cookout to benefit Cradle Beach Camp; an affair for SS. Columba-Brigid Catholic Church during which Father Roy Herberger would offer an outdoor Mass at the restaurant, and an annual golf tournament.
The restaurant now is operated by Rita DiTondo, a great-great-granddaughter of the founder, and her husband, Fabio Consonni.
Mr. Rohloff told Buffalo News reporter Tom Buckham in 2005 that the restaurant prospered because he and his wife preserved its essential character.
"We kept it small and limited it to what we could do," he said.
A baseball player and a bowler, he sponsored youth baseball teams through the restaurant, along with adult sports teams.
In addition to his wife, survivors include cousins.
A celebration of his life will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Buffalo Irish Center, 245 Abbott Road.