“We were born into a life of servitude and drudgery,” the Hoboken-born enterpreneur once joked when asked about the appeal of his saloon to so many different types of people.
Rivara, 60, survived cancer, battled diabetes and was living with one kidney, friends said. Around 4 a.m. Tuesday, he succumbed to health complications, family members confirmed.
"It is believed to be due to the virus," his daughter, Victoria, wrote, "but a test was never done."
Rivara grew up in Glen Rock, attending Glen Rock High School and, later, Ithaca College. He was just 20 years old when he inherited his father's restaurant -- then known as Victor’s Maywood Inn -- and moved back to town for good.
This year is the business' 65th anniversary, part of a three-generation family tradition that stretches back well over a century.
It began with the popular Hotel Victor in Hoboken in 1915 and continued in 1955 with the even-more widely-known Maywood Inn (and, later, Victor’s Maywood Inn), opened by Rivara’s father.
Renamed Maywood Inn’s Twin Door Tavern, the West Pleasant Avenue destination has continued to draw loyal customers with a variety of live music, food, a wide (and affordable) beer selection and a host of other attractions.
Rivara always paid particularly close attention to his customers and gathered dedicated staffers around him.
"He loved his staff, he loved his family and treated many as if we were his family," wrote Al Carroll. "I am so lost for words. We lost a good man and most of all a friend."
"What can I say about a man I spent more than half my life with?" wrote staffer Karen McCarthy McDonald. "You were my boss first, my friend second and my family finally.
"I can not hold back the tears knowing I will never see your smiling face or hear your melodious voice again."
"I've been recalling so many memories today when we had our little reunion last fall," Gari Therese Richards-Semon added. "He was so happy to see all of us...His 'crew,' he called us, and he said how much he loved us. We had a chance to tell him we loved him too, thank God."
Rivara, who was predeceased by his mother and father, is survived by his wife Cindy, daughters Christina and Victoria, two sisters Maria and Rita, three brothers Frank, Victor, and Joseph, stepsons Daniel and Ryan, and eight nieces and nephews, an obituary posted by Trinka-Faustini Funeral Service says.
Friends said Rivara found true love with Cindy and was loving and devoted father.
"This is so difficult," Richards-Semon added. "Our memories will have to sustain us and when we can be together again, we will celebrate the extraordinary friend he was. Brokenhearted is all I can feel."
"There will not be a day where I don't think about him and all that he has done for me," Victoria Rivara wrote of her dad. "He has always been there for me and I am positive he will still be there for me but in another and better place.
"I'm truly disheartened and saddened that I won't be able to see him and more. He meant so much to me, my family and his friends that loved him so much. I love my dad and hope he's now at peace."
As coronavirus-related deaths and cases continued to mount, one of the communities hit the hardest reeled at the news that one of its most beloved humanitarians had died.
Click here to follow Daily Voice Hackensack and receive free news updates.