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Longtime Houston Restaurateur Dies One Month After Contracting COVID-19

Vincent Mandola owned three eateries on the same lot, bringing homestyle Italian to Houstonians.

By Timothy Malcolm July 20, 2020

UPDATE: According to the Mandola family, Vincent contracted COVID-19 in June but died of heart failure.

Vincent Mandola, a member of one of the most prominent families in the Houston restaurant community, died Sunday of heart failure, according to family.

Mandola, who was 77, brother of Tony and Damian Mandola and son of Grace Mandola, owned Grappino di Nino, Nino's, and his namesake, Vincent's on West Dallas Street near Waugh Drive. The restaurants, together as Vincent Mandola Family Restaurants, announced Mandola's death Sunday on social media.

"Vincent dedicated his life to his family and was a devoted husband an amazing father and papa," read the Facebook post by Nino's, Vincent's & Grappino di Nino. "His restaurants were an extension of his home and he welcomed each guest with warmth and attentiveness, like famiglia."

Mandola attended St. Thomas High School and served in the army during the Vietnam War. When he returned home to Houston, he decided to get into the restaurant business. He and his wife, Mary, opened Nino's, a neighborhood restaurant specializing in family-style Italian dinners, in 1977. Vincent's, a slightly more casual iteration, came next, and in 1996 small-plates and bar-focused restaurant Grappino di Nino opened to complete the trio of Italian culinary experiences on one lot.

Mandola, according to his family, was also diagnosed with COVID-19 in June. In addressing Mandola's death on social media, Mandola's Deli, run by cousin Frank A. Mandola and not affiliated with Vincent Mandola Family Restaurants, stressed that people should follow guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19.

"Please please please be vigilant out there," read the Facebook post by Mandola's Deli. "Remember we are all tired of this temporary way of life. Follow the guidelines anyway! This is a real thing effecting our families, friends and communities."

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