BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Opening Uricchio's in 1995 was one of the happiest days of Nick Uricchio's life and as the years past, it also became the place everyone enjoyed, but today was the most difficult.
"It was hard to get into this morning," said employee, Penelope Kehagias.
Kehagias has spent 11 years memorable years working at the restaurant and spending time with the owner, everyone called Papa Nick.
"The most classy man I've ever met in my life and the biggest heart ever," she said.
Papa Nick battled with Parkinson's Disease for the last twenty years, but that didn't stop him from enjoying life, family and the restaurant.
"He taught me everything I know. I had no serving experience and he gave me my shot," said Kehagias.
Uricchio passed away at the age of 87. His death has hit the family hard, even employees who spent many years helping him give the community a great place to dine.
"He was an amazing man. He took care of his employees. He catered to us and guests," she said.
Uriccho began the restaurant with executive chef Raphael Hernandez and his son, Steve, making sure everything ran smoothly night after night.
Although, Papa Nick ran the Friars Club and the Beverly Hills Hilton, it's running his business in Bakersfield which family members say he loved the most.
"We've lost someone great in this community and anyone who has come here will know, that knows Papa Nick, we've lost a really good person," she said.
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