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Charlie Poveromo, a beloved bartender at Grissini restaurant in Englewood Cliffs who became the joyous face of a staff that mistakenly believed it won a Powerball jackpot in 2016, died Saturday at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. He was 57.
Poveromo suffered a heart attack at Grissini, said Tony Del Gatto, the restaurant’s owner, and didn’t leave the bar until the last customer was served.
It was a fitting last act for a man who put the needs of his coworkers and his devoted clientele above all else.
“He was one of the finest gentlemen I had ever met,” Del Gatto said. “Everybody felt like an individual to him. He spoke directly to people, his eyes never wandered. There could be 20 or 30 people at the bar that needed attention but when a person spoke to him, they were the most important person in the room.”
Poveromo was a lifelong resident of New Milford but established a second home at Grissini nearly 20 years ago. He would come in on his days off, Del Gatto said, just to fix a lock or a shelf or to shovel snow.
Charlie Poveromo at Grissini restaurant in Englewood Cliffs.
“It was like his own personal place,” Del Gatto said. “He would work even when he didn’t have to work.”
Poveromo showed the same commitment to the legions of bar regulars who sought him out for advice, companionship and the martinis he created every spring and summer. The restaurant often fielded calls from high-profile clients landing at Teterboro Airport, eager to know if Poveromo was tending the bar, said Del Gatto.
If a customer wanted to get a drink after closing hours, Poveromo would be there to serve it.
“He was more than loved,” said Michael De Vincenzi, the restaurant’s general manager. “He had a following like no other.”
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The world got a glimpse of Poveromo’s infectious personality in January 2016, when a video of Poveromo and other Grissini employees celebrating what they thought was a $900 million lottery win went viral.
Someone had called Poveromo with the wrong winning numbers, mistakenly reading an old winning combination.
“We were a mess for 20 minutes, and bam! It was over,” Poveromo told The Record. “It was like getting punched in the stomach, but goes away real fast.”
The mishap landed Poveromo on the show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and CNN.
De Vincenzi said it was one of the biggest thrills of Poveromo’s life and one of the biggest disappointments. Through it all, his trademark smile never disappeared, he said.
“He was just always happy, nothing ever bothered Charlie,” De Vincenzi said. “It’s already sad to walk into this restaurant knowing he’s not coming in. He’ll be really missed.”
Poveromo is survived by his wife, Velvet Lauren Poveromo, his children Brittany Poveromo and Michael Poveromo, his mother, two siblings and a grandchild.
Visitation will be held Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Boulevard Funeral Home and Cremation Service. The funeral will be on Friday at 9:30 a.m.