I was saddened to hear of the passing of my good friend Joe Amiel. Joe was a prominent restaurateur here in New Jersey for well over 30 years.

He owned and operated the Old Mill in Spring Lake Heights, Salle Tees in Monmouth Beach, and Joe's Bay Point Inn in Highlands, just to name a few. His remarkable career spanned 14 restaurants and started over 50 years ago.

Joe was also very involved in the film industry working with various production companies producing movies. He was frequently spotted at his restaurant with his very good friend Danny Aiello. I had a great friendship with Joe who seemed to have a photographic memory.

Back in the late '90s when he was at The Old Mill he wanted me to host a show in his big room upstairs; Danny Aiello would be performing, singing and telling stories. I jumped at the opportunity and I mentioned that my mom was a big fan of Danny's. So Joe says bring her and I'll have Danny say hello. I was thrilled and Mom was truly taken aback.

We went early and Joe sent out dinner, and then he and Danny come over to the table and sat down. Danny couldn't have been nicer and Mom was over the top. He sat for about 20 minutes talking about the Bronx and New York, where Mom and I lived.

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I opened the show and Danny, during his performance, sent out a song to my mother. Well that was it, she fell in love with Danny and was so fond of Joe for the opportunity. So was I. Mom had a great time and talked about it for a long time.

When my mom passed away Joe came to the service and we relived that great time which had made my mom's night. He was that type of guy. Joe was also big in helping those in need; he hosted a big benefit for The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, now Fulfill. He opened his restaurant organizing over 35 restaurants and purveyors, coming in and using his kitchen supplies and staff, all on him.

Joe did things first class and was always dressed sharp. We both appreciated our friendship and we both supported each other's endeavors. Joe made you feel that you were his best friend, that's why he was so loved by so many in the restaurant, film and charity circles.

To list his award winning accomplishments and long list of business associations would take another six pages. He was involved and genuinely cared about his community. I am proud to know Joe Amiel and if you ever met him, you would feel the same.

Joe was 77 years old and succumbed from a battle with pneumonia  Rest in peace my friend.

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