Suburban pizza king Fred Rosati dies at 102

  • Fred Rosati, who helped his family's pizzerias become a national chain after his brothers started the first restaurant in Mount Prospect, is being remembered for his friendliness and lively nature. Rosati, 102, died Monday in Cave Creek, Arizona. Here, he was 101 when at the oven at a Rosati's Pizza.

    Fred Rosati, who helped his family's pizzerias become a national chain after his brothers started the first restaurant in Mount Prospect, is being remembered for his friendliness and lively nature. Rosati, 102, died Monday in Cave Creek, Arizona. Here, he was 101 when at the oven at a Rosati's Pizza. Courtesy of Rosati's Pizza

  • Fred Rosati, here at a Rosati's Pizza restaurant in the 1960s, helped turn a handful of suburban restaurants into a national chain that today includes about 200 locations in several states.

    Fred Rosati, here at a Rosati's Pizza restaurant in the 1960s, helped turn a handful of suburban restaurants into a national chain that today includes about 200 locations in several states. Courtesy of Rosati's Pizza

  • Fred Rosati, who died at 102 this week, quipped that the cake was good but his pizza was better when he celebrated his 91st birthday with family at the Arlington Heights restaurant.

    Fred Rosati, who died at 102 this week, quipped that the cake was good but his pizza was better when he celebrated his 91st birthday with family at the Arlington Heights restaurant. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 4/2/2020 8:14 AM

Fred Rosati, who helped his family's pizzerias become a national chain after his brothers started the first restaurant in Mount Prospect, is being remembered for his friendliness and lively nature.

Rosati, 102, died Monday in Cave Creek, Arizona, according to the company. The World War II veteran was active in the Warrenville-based Rosati's Pizza franchise company well into his 90s.

 

He was fondly remembered by two of his sons Wednesday.

"You meet people that everybody seems to like," said Rick Rosati, the company's CEO. "That was my dad. I don't know anybody -- and I'm 70 now -- I don't know anybody who didn't like my father the day they met him. He was that type of personality."

Jeff Rosati, the company's CFO, said his father enjoyed all sports but was passionate about the Cubs.

He said the family rented a bus and brought his father to Wrigley Field to celebrate his 100th birthday. Another memorable time was when Rosati was at Jeff's house to watch the Cubs defeat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 to win the 2016 World Series.

"That whole day was just incredible," Jeff Rosati said.

Born in Chicago on June 23, 1917, Rosati was one of 10 children in a restaurant family.

In the late 1890s, his family served Italian food to customers in New York. They moved to Chicago at the turn of the century and opened another eatery featuring Italian-style pizza, a precursor to the Rosati's restaurant empire.

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Two of Rosati's brothers founded the Mount Prospect pizzeria in 1964, followed by locations in Niles and Arlington Heights. While with the family's Tolona Pizza Products, Fred Rosati supplied his brothers' Mount Prospect store and worked with them on weekends before co-founding the Rosati's franchise company in the 1970s.

As a result of the franchising, Rosati's Pizza mushroomed across the suburbs, then the country. There are about 200 Rosati's locations in several states.

Jeff Rosati said his father still was traveling from his winter home in Arizona and his summer place in Door County, Wisconsin. The elder Rosati had planned to return to Door County in May.

His lively nature never was slowed by age.

"He never quit," Jeff Rosati said. "He was always willing to go somewhere. That's the crazy thing. At 102, he said, 'Let's get in the car and go to a (pizza) store.'"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Fred Rosati is survived by his 100-year-old wife, Theresa. The couple married in 1946.

Other survivors include his seven children, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Plans are for the family to hold a private graveside service and a public celebration of Rosati's life at a later date.

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