Tony Fortuna, Restaurateur With a Congenial Flair, Dies at 76

Mr. Fortuna subsequently worked the doors and dining rooms at a succession of Manhattan restaurants, including Tavern on the Green, Lespinasse (in the St. Regis hotel), Mad. 61 and the refurbished Monkey Bar. In 1995, he finally had a restaurant of his own, the Lenox Room, on Third Avenue and East 73rd Street, in partnership with the chef and restaurateur Charlie Palmer.

He took a personal interest in both customers and staff; it seemed to come naturally. “People in the restaurant weren’t customers to him,” Mr. Palmer said. “They were friends, and he couldn’t do enough for them.”

Five years later, Mr. Fortuna became the sole owner of the Lenox Room. Its name was changed to TBar, a steak house with a varied menu, in 2007, after Mr. Fortuna was joined by Arthur Backal, of Backal Hospitality Group, as a partner. A satellite of TBar opened several years ago in Southampton, N.Y., so that Mr. Fortuna, typically in jeans, could welcome and feed his regulars in a summer setting.

Angelo Tony Fortuna was born on Oct. 22, 1947, in Sant’Elia Fiumerapido, Italy, situated between Rome and Naples. His father, Giuseppe Fortuna, a shopkeeper, and his mother, Concetta (Melaragni) Fortuna, a homemaker, emigrated with Tony and his two siblings to the Detroit area in 1955. Tony was the second oldest. Two sisters and a brother were later born in the United States.

In the early 1960s, after his father relocated the family to Marly-le-Roi, a suburb of Paris, where his brother had a restaurant, Tony became a busboy, igniting his career. He eventually became maître d’hôtel.


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