People come to this country to seek the American Dream. Folks from here are after the Kenosha Dream. I didn’t know Mr. Ralph Tenuta but Ktown lends itself to one having all the information one needs by just talking to people. And people talked. And no one really needs to read accolades from someone that never met the man but allow me to say this. Mr. Tenuta was the embodiment of living the Kenosha Dream. Most everyone wants to be a success; the extended family is still somewhat relevant here and a person should be willing to contribute to the greater good. Well, you probably know where this is headed. There is no greater example of the Kenosha Dream than Mr. Ralph Tenuta…and I’m pretty sure everyone knows it. A world class business and a world class businessman with a family that has as many roots as it has reaches, and an absolute pillar in the community. He doesn’t check all boxes…he is the model for which the boxes were formed. When a man holds the ability to take a city block in Kenosha, WI and transform it into a place that truly matters on this earth for multiple reasons..while being incredibly humble and generous..well he is without question the first face I’d put on the Mt Rushmore of Kenosha business owners. As a tribute to Mr. Tenuta, I’d like to pay some homage to a few other locally owned business that make Kenosha a unique place:
Aiello Florist, Mr. Chuck Aiello. My association with Mr. Aiello goes back a ways and as much as the flower shop is a backbone business of the community, to me when you mention Mr. Aiello it starts with family. I’ve never been associated with a closer family unit than his. He is a tireless worker, easily the nicest person I’ve ever met and much like Mr. Tenuta, essentially no ego whatsoever. He is another true giant of the business landscape here.
Bills Corner Club, Kathy and Tim Dinan. Havin’ Fun Since ’61. That little corner bar has been a watering hole for many of KTown’s finest. Bill’s is a place you always feel welcome. There is always a game on, everybody knows everybody, the summer picnic is consistently epic and many of the patrons either grew up in the neighborhood or still live there. The Newman Park crowd just grew up and kinda wandered down the hill to Bill’s. It is a perfect mix of the old and the getting old.
Dominic Tirabassi. Not real sure what to call the business, he is simply Mr. T. I had the opportunity to spend pretty much the majority of three straight days with him back in the fall of 2008 and it was fantastic. Again, like Mr. Tenuta and Mr. Aiello, this man has zero ego. For a guy that carries his stature, he is unbelievably “regular guy”. And he remembers everything. I pride myself on being a person with very clear recall and I bowed to the master and just shut up and listened for three days.
Kenosha Tire, The Heckel Family. This family owned and operated business would be my poster child for “they sell you what you need and not just whatever they can”. Extremely professional people with and extremely loyal customer base (myself included). There is always a dog or two lounging about and a Saturday mid-morning room full of Kenoshans always makes for some interesting banter. They absolutely earn your business every time you go in there.
Sunnyside Club, Dave Hamelink Sr. and Jr. I go in there for lunch and there they are, Sr. and Jr., happy to see ya, working the place to make it right. Absolutely THE best condiments bar in history. A pizza that is light years past a run-of-the-mill bar pizza and holds its own in a city full of some of the best pizza in the country. A mini-class reunion most every time you roll into the place, Sunnyside has been the place to go in KTown my whole life. And mad respect to those two men that are in there working to continue the legacy of excellence.
There a several more that are classic family owned KTown businesses…who’s got your loyalty?
Sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Tenuta.