Family and fate likely conspired to choose Tony Piccolo's career for him.

His mother, Grace Caniglia Piccolo, was the only sister to the Caniglia brothers who created an Omaha restaurant dynasty.

Tony Piccolo, who grew up in Omaha's Little Italy neighborhood, began working at Caniglia's Pizzaria. It was the precursor to the now-closed Original Caniglia's steak house near Sixth and Pierce Streets and the first of the many Caniglia family Italian steak houses that would operate in Omaha.

Piccolo's father, Tony Piccolo Sr., founded Piccolo Pete's Restaurant, 2202 S. 20th St., in 1933, the year before his son was born.

Tony Piccolo Jr. later joined his father in business, and the two co-owned Piccolo's for 30 years.

Donna Sheehan and Nadine “Dee” Graves bought the restaurant when their brother retired in 1999. Their ownership continues today.

Funeral services were held Wednesday for Piccolo. The 78-year-old died Dec. 28 at Hospice House-the Josie Harper Residence of stomach cancer, Graves said.

“He was a very outgoing person,” she said. “He was very busy with the restaurant” and for many years was the lunchtime cashier.

Piccolo graduated from Omaha South High School and served as a cook in the Army. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles and loved to travel.

Besides his sisters, other survivors include his wife of 49 years, Audrey.

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