Vince Continenza

File photo: Vince Continenza, (center) with his wife and son inside Ironwood's courtyard dining area.  Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot

Vince Continenza made his name in the food industry by making sure his customers felt at home. As the owner of Ironwood on Midland Road, he took pride in his staff, his menu and the warm personality he imbued into his business.

The restaurant will be closed Wednesday, July 1, for a private day of remembrance to honor Continenza, who died Friday, June 26.

“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved friend, owner and mentor, Vince,” Ironwood announced Monday on social media. “We know his legacy and memory will be remembered in our community."

Continenza and his wife, Cindy, purchased the former Ironwood Cafe in May 2006. Over the years, the couple made significant exterior additions, including a pergola, expansive garden and expanded patio, and completed a total interior renovation of the restaurant in 2018.

The family’s influence on the popular eatery also includes their son, Nathan, who serves as Ironwood’s executive chef.

“Vince’s personal attention to detail and warm welcome is what made the Ironwood our go-to restaurant year after year,” said friend and customer, Audrey Kessler.

Continenza got his start in the business at 14 years old, working as a busboy in his uncle’s restaurant. His resume grew to include management -- by 21 years -- and owning his own restaurant at the age of 30. Ever the entrepreneur, he went on to own several restaurants including The Cork and Cleaver, Oakley’s Restaurant, and Gull Lake Cafe. In the early 2000s, Continenza relocated his family to Southern Pines and put his personal stamp on Ironwood.

Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at

(2) comments

Stephen Woodward

The last time I saw him in the restaurant Vince was wearing a mask. I missed his warm smile. And now I miss him.

Cheri Guidice

That’s very sad news...will definitely miss chats with Vince when I’d call for a reservations over the last 14 years.

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