Since August 2011, Mrs. Mary Ann Ciocca, 93, has been hostess and sometimes manager of the Italian Maid Café, Historic Richmond, Richmond, Texas.
“My mother loves Richmond and she loves working in the restaurant. She has been our hostess, and enjoys seeing the customers, she knows most of them,” said Lanie Alvarez, co-owner of Italian Maid with her brother Alex Ciocca.
Ciocca, has also been in the kitchen, making her special homemade pasta which was served for the Valentine’s Dinner at the Italian Maid, and she continues to stay busy.
When asked her secret to being an active 93 year old, Mrs. Ciocca had several thoughts on the topic.
“I grew up in the Depression era of the 1920’s and 30s where there were many hardships, challenges, adversities, difficulties and just hard times. Since then, the problems we face today are easier so I do not have stress and I learned to just keep going,” Ciocca said.
She also noted she always walked, and up until a few years ago, she walked two or more miles most every day. Recently, she is only walking short distances like a half-a-mile or so.
“Also, when I am tired, I rest and I have a strong faith in God,” Ciocca said.
“When my daughter had a brain tumor recently, we were all so scared, so worried, except my mother. My mother told me God would take care of my daughter, the way He has been taking care of all of us. My mother and our faith really helped us get through my daughter’s illness,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez, smiled, and noted her mother taught her how to make pasta, how to cook.
“I watched her when I was young, when she was in the kitchen, and I’d help her. She taught me.”
On some days, Alvarez is not able to be at the restaurant, but her mother is, to oversee the staff and to give direction.
“The Italian Maid has the best customers in the world, and I adore all of them and I cannot thank them enough. Since my mother has been here, all of the customers talk to her and are so nice to her even though she is a little hard of hearing, and it means the world to my mother. It really adds to the quality of her life and at the end of the day, she is in the best mood,” Alvarez said.
Of late, one of her best friends is Kathryn Joseph, of Joseph’s Furniture and Gifts.
“My mother loves to shop and Kathryn says my mother is one of her best customers. The other day, my mother walked out of Joseph’s with two large shopping bags. Kathryn has been wonderful to her, and it means so much to both of us,” Alvarez said.
When the weather here turns warmer, maybe in late May, Mrs. Ciocca will return to Pittsburgh for the summer. “My mother says after getting home, she really misses Richmond, she really misses the restaurant and the customers,” Alvarez said. Yet, when Pittsburgh turns too cold, she’ll return to Richmond for the winter, and the Italian Maid will be waiting.