Raymond M. Cappiello

Aug. 26, 1949 - Oct. 20, 2017
Raymond M. Cappiello, Aug. 26, 1949 - Oct. 20, 2017

Raymond Michael Cappiello, who had been the owner Manucci’s and the Shark Shack restaurants in Montauk, died on Oct. 20 at Southampton Hospital. The cause was metastatic lung cancer, with which the 68-year-old had been diagnosed three weeks earlier. 

His wife of 48 years, Eileen Cappiello, described him as a meticulous “numbers man” who had spent decades in the insurance business before buying a house on Essex Street in Montauk and taking a gamble on the restaurant game. 

His first restaurant, the Shark Shack, was a popular karaoke spot that opened in 2000 in downtown Montauk, across from A Wave Inn Resort. Four years later, he lost his lease there, and opened Manucci’s restaurant at the Montauk Manor. Manucci’s later relocated to the space on Montauk Harbor currently occupied by Sammy’s; finally, it moved to Kenny’s Tipperary Inn on West Lake Drive. 

A former treasurer for the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Cappiello was well known for offering his restaurant patrons affordable specials and ample portions. A Monday pasta night and a wildly popular Sunday brunch buffet were notable. He had stated many times that he would rather “just break even” and provide the year round crowd in Montauk with an affordable place to go in the winter than shut down, as did many of his restaurant-business colleagues, during the off-season. He was true to his word, and a special menu with $10 entrees and $5 appetizers was offered for several years in the winter months. 

Mr. Cappiello was a constant presence at the front door of Manucci’s, which closed in 2014. His obsessive attention to managing the reservation book and stoking the fire was matched only by his passionate interest in sports. A lifelong fan of the New York Yankees and Giants, he kept up an active banter with customers at the bar from his regular perch on a stool behind the host stand, offering up “trivia of all kinds, and jokes that were exclusively corny,” as Kate Maier, a former waitress, recalled. 

His wife, a nurse at Saint Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, was known to show up after a long shift and run food in scrubs, but otherwise she left the nuances of restaurant management to her husband. 

It was Mr. Cappiello’s brother, Richard Cappiello of Bradenton, Fla., who introduced him to the former Eileen Joyce while they were students at New Hyde Park Memorial High School, where Mr. Cappiello had been a baseball pitcher and class president, and she a cheerleader. The couple were married on Aug. 30, 1969, and had planned to attend his 50th high school reunion together this month. 

Born on Aug. 26, 1949, in Floral Park to Ralph Cappiello and the former Jane Abbot, he grew up in New Hyde Park, where, according to John Bishar, a lifelong friend who read a eulogy at his funeral, he was known as Cappy on his Little League baseball team. Mr. Bishar reflected on a long friendship between his family and the Cappiellos, and noted that Ray, as he was known to friends as an adult, was such an avid golfer that he would regularly carry a hammer during winter forays on the Montauk Downs golf course, in order to drive his tees into the frozen ground. 

After graduating from high school he attended the University of Rhode Island, and obtained numerous professional certifications in the insurance business, said his wife. He worked for Metropolitan Life for many years before opening up his own business, Essential Insurance, with a partner. The company was sold in 1999. 

The couple raised their children in Northport and Commack, where he coached Little League and took great joy in restoring a 1957 Ford Thunderbird. They bought a condo at Ocean End in Montauk in 1992. After retiring from the restaurant business in 2014, he became a property manager at Ocean End for the last two years of his life. 

In addition to his wife and brother, he is survived by a son, Michael Cappiello of Basking Ridge, N.J., a daughter, Lisa Lagner of Pembroke, Mass., and six grandchildren. He was a member of St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk, and a funeral Mass was said there by Father Tom Murray on Oct. 24, followed by a memorial gathering at Muse at the End in Montauk. He was buried at Fort Hill Cemetery. Memorial donations were suggested to the Montauk Fire Department.