Vincent Continenza, 68, of Southern Pines, passed away peacefully Friday, June 26, 2020, at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.

Vince was known locally to most as the proud owner of the well-respected, family-run Ironwood Cafe, located in Pinehurst. Born Jan. 15, 1952, in Cleveland, Ohio, Vince was the son of the late Vincent and Molly Continenza. As a teenager, Vince started working in his uncle’s restaurant and learned at an early age the recipe for a successful restaurant. After attending college at Dayton Ohio University (though a life-long avid Ohio State Buckeye fan), Vince started working at a fine dining restaurant called The Cork and Cleaver, of which he would take ownership later in life. The Cork and Cleaver was a popular steakhouse, where Vince learned and sharpened his butchering skills. It was there that Vince met his beautiful and devoted wife, Cindy, who shared his culinary interests.

Later, for a formative time period, Vince ran the reputable Oakley’s Restaurant near Kalamazoo, Mich., before taking ownership of his own newly-established restaurant. In 1989, Vince and Cindy founded the Gull Lake Cafe, which was known for its casual fine dining and year-round waterfront seating.  Always an entrepreneur, Vince collaborated with talented musicians from the local university to bring dinner-theater cabaret shows to their expansive four- season deck for fall, winter and Christmas entertainment.

In the early 2000s, Vince and Cindy decided to relocate their family and their restaurant-interests to Southern Pines, and subsequently took ownership of the Ironwood Cafe. Vince was involved and devoted to every aspect of the restaurant’s continued success. From front of the house to back, he made the staff feel like family, and to him, they were. This family-feel created in the Ironwood an inviting, welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere that’s unparalleled in the area.

Vince is survived by his wife, Cindy Continenza; his son Nathan Continenza; and his daughter, Anna Continenza; and his brothers, Rick, Ronnie and Tony Continenza, as well as Bob Richards. Vince, lovingly known as Paba, was adored by his three grandchildren, Zakk, Hydrick and Dominic. He was greatly loved by numerous nieces and nephews and is also thought of fondly by hundreds of Gull Lake Cafe and Ironwood staffers, who he treated like family. Through fellowship, family and food, he leaves behind a great legacy of laughter, cabaret and some of the finest hand-carved steaks around.

The family is requesting a private service due to COVID-19.

Online condolences may be made at www.bolesfuneralhome.com.

Services are entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.