Thomas J. Bonfiglio, who built a chain of restaurants in North Jersey and elsewhere even as the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered similar businesses, died on Friday. He was 62 years old.
He and his family have opened two restaurants in Clifton in the past two years — Tio Taco + Tequila Bar last summer and Tommy’s Tavern + Tap in December 2020 — and their restaurant inventory has more than tripled during the pandemic.
Bonfiglio, who practiced law and was a chartered accountant for decades, told NorthJersey.com last year that the physical size of his restaurants has enabled them to ride out the pandemic; they were large enough to accommodate hundreds of people while allowing them to maintain social distancing once indoor dining was permitted. He had three restaurants at the start of the pandemic in early 2020 and had 10 by the middle of last year after moving his businesses to several restaurants that had closed.
“I saw it as an opportunity,” Bonfiglio said in an interview last year.
“The restaurant industry is the toughest business I have ever worked in,” he added.
He said the restaurants are a family business – the umbrella company is called Triple T Hospitality – with his wife and two daughters heavily involved, as well as other family members.
In addition to the Clifton locations, the family operates Tommy’s Tavern + Tap restaurants in Sea Bright, Freehold Township, Staten Island, Princeton, Parsippany and Bridgewater, and Tio Taco + Tequila Bar restaurants in Marlboro and Edison.
Funeral arrangements are handled by Holmdel Funeral Home. Home owner Bill Boglioli said services have yet to be finalized. Bonfiglio, of Rumson, died Friday night at Riverview Medical Center, the obituary said. The cause of death has not been disclosed.
Bonfiglio maintained his law practice until last year, according to a biography on his law firm’s website. He said he had been a lawyer and CPA for 30 years before he retired. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pace University in 1982 and graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1987.
He grew up in Brooklyn, where he met his wife, Yvette, and they moved to New Jersey in 1992 after having their first child, settling in Monmouth County, Bonfiglio said in an interview there. several years.
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Bonfiglio said he enjoyed his legal career but was excited about a new career in the restaurant industry.
He and his wife, who had two daughters, Andrea and Christina, became partners years ago at Dockside, a restaurant in Sea Bright. He said he brought charcoal pizza to the Jersey Shore in 2009 – he called pizza “the most perfect food ever invented”. But he said he wanted variety, which led him to open a Tommy’s Tavern in Sea Bright.
“I was a lawyer for 30 years,” he said. “I had a long career and loved it. But I really enjoy that part.”
Bonfiglio continued to work as a lawyer for years, but said he enjoyed being in the restaurant business with his family. He said in last year’s interview that his daughters both work at the company – Andrea as marketing manager and Christina as brand manager.
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to family,” he said. “We make money, but it’s not driven by money. It’s an extension of our home.”
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Tommy Bonfiglio, owner of NJ restaurant chain, dies at 62