Restaurateur Steve Marra Of Main Street Grille Found Dead
The Marra Restaurant Group had been in receivership since December 2010
Steve Marra, a longtime fixture on Main Street as well as in the Rhode Island restaurant scene, was found dead midday Wednesday, according to Warwick police. Marra lived on Ives Road in Potowomut.
At the Grille On Main Wednesday evening, restaurant manager Mario Abbondanza said he was waiting for word from the family before he could comment. He said he and other staff members had learned of the death a few hours earlier.
According to Warwick police lieutenant Andrew Tainsh, Marra’s death is still under investigation but said that he believed it had been deemed "not suspicious.”
For Dale DeJoy, owner of 58 Main Street, the building right next to the Grille, the news of Marra’s death came as a shock.
“He was my neighbor for 15 years,” said DeJoy. “It’s just horrendous.”
DeJoy said that the two men were friends on Facebook and that Marra was one of those people who posted frequently, usually very positive and upbeat comments. “I really don’t know what to think,” DeJoy said. “I’m sorry for all Steve’s family and for his employees.”
"I am saddened and shocked by this news," said EG Patch business reporter and former EG Chamber of Commerce director Jerry Meyer. "Steve was a great friend of the Chamber of Commerce which he assisted in many ways, including fund raisers," he said. Meyers also said that Marra showed leadership on community issues, including opposition to the proposed - and eventually defeated - West Warwick casino.
"Our weekly meetings were held around the conference table in his office," said Meyers. "His generosity and his presence as a leader in his industry as well as the community will be missed."
Marra took over Alias Smith and Jones, now the Grille on Main, in the early 1990s. In 1994, he teamed up with Bill Pinelli in what became a restaurant business powerhouse in the state during the 1990s and into the 2000s.
At its peak, Pinelli-Marra Restaurant Group operated several restaurants, a catering company and a real estate firm. In addition the Grille and the Post Office Café, it owned Pinelli’s North End, Waterplace Restaurant, Pinelli’s Cucina Twist, Pinelli’s Cucina, Twist Restaurant, Twist Restaurant II; and Atomic Catering.
The partnership ended in 2009, when Marra bought out Pinelli and took over sole control of the business.
Marra Restaurant Group filed for receivership on Dec. 8, 2010, and the Post Office Cafe was closed by order of the receiver last Jan. 9. All of the restaurants were put on the market in January; in February, the highest bidder was a company comprised of Marra’s brother and father. Marra stayed on as manager of the restaurants.
Also in January, former partner Pinelli filed suit against Marra, accusing him of stealing money from the partnership. A settlement in that case was reached in February.