News - McHenry County

Friends, family reflect on late owner of Mr. A’s Italian Beef in Crystal Lake

Family and friends said Bob Amoroso, the owner of Mr. A's Italian Beef in Crystal Lake who died Wednesday, was a kind man who loved his family and customers.

To those who knew him best, there was no sacrifice Bob Amoroso, the owner of Mr. A’s Italian Beef in Crystal Lake, wouldn’t make for his family and his business.

Michelle Milano, one of the managers who was hired by Amoroso in 2000, said he was a tough but kind boss who was a “big teddy bear” once you got to know him.

“[He was the] sweetest guy you’d ever want to know,” she said Friday. “He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”

Customers, staff and family remembered Amoroso, also known as “Mr. A,” after he died at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday with his family by his side.

Amoroso’s family and friends likened him to the Energizer bunny, as he just kept going and going and going, no matter what.

“He was always joking around,” Milano said. “We would always play tricks on each other here. We were always goofing around.”

A classic rock ’n’ roll fan, Mr. A would clap along to the songs played on the restaurant’s radio, walking around, “jamming, dancing,” especially to one of his favorites, Bruce Springsteen, Milano said.

Amoroso previously survived pancreatic cancer, but that didn’t stop his spirit.

“He had half a pancreas, no spleen, diabetes, and he still came to work every day,” Milano said. “Seriously. He was gone for about a year, and then he was back with a vengeance; and he was back just as hard as when he left. You couldn’t slow him down.”

Mr. A’s daughter, Kim Lucatorto, said he loved his customers, calling it a “highlight of his life.”

“[He would] have all these people he could see all the time,” Lucatorto said. “He talked to us all the time about all the customers that came in, and all the regulars and stuff and how great it was.”

Mr. A’s in Crystal Lake opened at the corner of Route 14 and Dole Avenue in 1968. According to the restaurant’s website, it is a “real family affair,” with Amoroso’s parents eventually joining the business, along with his younger brother, Mick. According to the restaurant’s website, Mick took over the daily operations of the business when Amoroso “semi-retired,” although he still came in several times a week “to help out and chat it up with everyone.”

No matter how busy he was with the restaurant, Amoroso always made time for family, going to watch his children and grandchildren at activities they were involved in.

“He’d show up to the plays and the concerts and ... sporting events and things like that to help cheer us on as much as he could,” Lucatorto said. “It just brought so much joy to life to sit there and watch his grandchildren [and children].”

Family was “so important” to Amoroso, Lucatorto said. Because her father worked a lot of hours, the time he spent with his children was all the more precious.

“I cannot stress enough how he sacrificed so much for everybody in the family – not just my sisters, not just us, but also his brother and his brother’s family, and my aunt and uncle, and my grandma,” Lucatorto said. “That was just the kind of guy he was.”

The support didn’t only extend to his family members. Milano used to be in a band, and Amoroso would go to every one of her shows with his wife.

“He said, ‘We gotta go. We gotta help. Michelle’s having a show this weekend. We’re going,’ ” Milano said. “If there was something going on, and he loved you, he was there.”

Amoroso also was big into helping the Crystal Lake community.

“Anytime somebody would come in and have a fundraiser, he was right there with a gift certificate or party pack,” Milano said. “I’ve been here 20 years, and I’ve never seen them not donate. ... Back in the day he used to donate to the baseball leagues.”

Since the news of Amoroso’s death has spread, people have been showing support and sharing condolences in person and on social media.

Crystal Lake resident Samantha Hasche said she has been going to Mr. A’s since she was 5, and her four older sisters worked there.

“This is home to me,” she said.

Hasche said she remembers Amoroso as being sweet.

“They had little honey bottles, the ones with the little bear on it,” Hasche said. “Every time I came in here when I was little he used to always give me the little bottles after they were empty, because I loved them.”

Amoroso was married to his wife, Judy, for almost 60 years before she died a few years ago, Milano said.

Amoroso is survived by his four daughters, Lucatorto, Pamm Amoroso, Michele Amoroso and Janice Kershaw, along with four grandchildren, Maitlyn, Kelsey, Quin and Tyler, and one great-granddaughter, Ashlynn.

A public visitation is being planned, and details will be forthcoming.

Cassie Buchman

Cassie Buchman

Cassie is a former Northwest Herald who rcovered Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills.