By DON STINE
Bradley Beach icon Rhonda Manno, whose family owned Giamano’s Ristorante on Main Street for more than 30 years, died April 11.
Bradley Beach Mayor Gary Engelstad said that Manno was a kind and caring person and that was always reflected in her restaurant.
“Every time you walked through the door she treated you like your own mom. She just had a way about her and friends and strangers always felt equally welcome there.
She was one of the hallmarks of the restaurant,” he said.
Engelstad said that Manno gave much back to her community and those in need over the years.
“She put in a lot of money and man hours over the years. And it all came from her very large heart and she will be sorely missed,” he said.
Musician Eryn Shewell played at Giamano’s three to four times a month for the last 10 years.
“She touched the lives of so many people and she was a mother to us all. She supported all of us and helped people,” she said.
Shewell said Manno had an annual tradition of feeding to hungry and homeless during the holidays and always had continuing support for musicians.
“While she may no longer be with us, her spirit will always be around us. No one I’ve ever met had a spirit like hers, or a bigger heart. She was one of the biggest supporters of myself and other local musicians.
“She brought so much life to Bradley Beach and the Jersey Shore, and was such a strong force in the community. She was like a mother to me and she will be greatly missed by so many,” she said.
For many years Giamano’s served free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for those in need at the Salvation Army.
Musician Kenny “Stringbean” Sorensen has also been performing at Giamanos for about 25 years.
“Rhonda really loved her restaurant and music, especially reggae and Jamaican. She always talked about retiring to Jamaica. I loved Rhonda. She was a kind, nurturing soul who will be missed.” he said.
Giamano’s closed its doors at the end of last year. In January a public auction was held for the items in the restaurant. At the time Rhonda’s son, Steffan, who was the restaurant chef and operated the business with his mother, said he was uncertain what the next step would be. He said he was considering possibly opening another restaurant in the borough.He had received approval from the Planning Board to build a new three-story building on the property with parking and retail on the ground level and residential units above.