PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Table 5 sat empty Thursday at Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen Restaurant on Providence’s Federal Hill.
The restaurant was paying homage to it’s most recognizable patron – former Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci – reserving the corner table for the mayor.
“This was his spot – Table 5 – this was his spot,” said owner Salvatore Joseph Marzilli.
REMEMBERING CIANCI: Share Your Condolences
Cianci died Thursday morning after being rushed to Miriam Hospital the night before. It was news that hit home for people on Federal Hill.
Cianci was a familiar face in the historic neighborhood and The Old Canteen was one of his favorite spots.
“This is where he sat and most of the decisions, a good percentage of them, were made here writing on a table cloth,” Marzilli said, adding that Cianci visited the restaurant before every Election Night. “Every night before his elections, alone. My dad would come at the end of the night sitting with him. But, he would be sitting here writing on the table cloths and there’d be a whole half side of the table cloth written in little notes and little suggestions and things he sat there and figured out.”
The Old Canteen is also the place where Cianci celebrated his release from federal custody.
“There must have been 25 guys and gals right outside this window. Right outside. They were throwing ladders up there. We had to stop them from coming up the stairs.,” Marzilli said.
The owner, who took over the restaurant from his father, said he will miss his friend and his best customer.
“He’s a good friend and he’s sitting up there now with my dad. He’s up there in heaven on another Table 5,” he said. “We’re going to miss him. We’re going to miss him dearly.”
FEDERAL HILL IN MOURNING
Cianci didn’t just frequent The Old Canteen. He could often be seen at many other of Federal Hill’s restaurants.
“There’s people crying all over the place. There’s people crying all over the place right now. It wasn’t expected,” said Rick Simone, Federal Hill Commerce Association.
It was on Federal Hill where Cianci announced in 2014 that he was running for mayor again.
Businesses up and down Atwells Avenue are filled with pictures of Cianci. His portrait hangs inside the Federal Hill Tap House. Campaign signs from his unsuccessful run for mayor are still posted.
People inside Tammany Hall – one of his favorite spots – people were reminiscing about him.
“He loved everybody. He was a great, great guy,” said one patron.
“The personal connection with Buddy. He made you feel like you were the only person in the room when he was talking to you. There could be hundreds of people there waiting to talk to him and he would sit there and pay attention to every person,” Simone said. “Politics aside, he was very good at connecting. My kids, my family has known him forever, so he’s going to be missed. He’s going to be missed.”