James Gandolfini's "Sopranos" restaurant, the setting for the iconic last scene of the complicated New Jersey mob boss, paid a special tribute to the late actor. He died at age 51 Wednesday while vacationing in Rome, Italy.
Gandolfini's "Sopranos" restaurant is actually an operational business called Holsten's ice cream parlor in Bloomfield, N.J. It is run by Chris Carley, who paid a tribute to the actor's Mafioso character by placing a classy, black-and-white "reserved" sign at the table where Gandolfini last sat on "The Sopranos."
Few can forget the final scene of the show: Tony Soprano sat at a table, eating onion rings with his family and waiting for his daughter Meadow to finish parking her car. Suddenly, the screen cut to black, which left many fans wondering if the mob boss had been executed by the suspicious leather-clad stranger in the establishment, or if Tony was just remembering the good times. "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey played in the background.
Though Gandolfini was espoused by many as a talented actor, Carley says he was just a regular guy while on the set.
"During his down time, he'd be outside smoking a big cigar, talking to people. He seemed like real regular guy," Carley told The New York Post. He also said the actor went out of his way to be pleasant with the staff, despite 15-hour workdays and many scenes.
"After a 15-hour day, he could [have been] cranky and tired, just like us," he added. Gandolfini was "really, really nice to the staff, giving autographs and taking pictures … One night, at 1 a.m., he brought in a whole bunch of sushi at his own cost. Just a really nice guy."
Many fans of the actor and the show have stopped by the diner to see the placard and pay their respects. Gandolfini, who was born in Westwood, grew up in Park Ridge, and went to school at Rutgers, embodied New Jersey and supported local events throughout his career.
The actor's death was confirmed by HBO. He may have had a heart attack, according to his representative. He is survived by his wife Deborah and children Michael and Liliana.