Restaurant Matriarch Mary 'Eva' Varallo Dies at 96



UPDATE on the scheduled time and place for services. See below.

The woman who for decades presided over Nashville's oldest restaurant, Varallo's Chile Parlor and Restaurant, has died. Mary “Eva” Reale Varallo was 96.

Varallo's has been a Nashville landmark since 1907. Eva Varallo joined the operation in 1937, when she married Frank Varallo Jr., the son of the restaurant's founder, Frank Varallo Sr. (She was working at the venerable Candyland candy shop downtown when they started their courtship.)

Eva and Frank Jr. worked side by side at Varallo's until 1998, when they retired, according to an obituary provided by their daughter-in-law, Deborah Varallo.

The couple were known for warm hospitality and getting to know their customers, who represented a cross-section of Nashville society, including politicians and other downtown power players.

Together the couple wrote a book titled Thoughts From the Bottom of the Chili Bowl, which was inspired by daily nuggets of wit and wisdom from their patrons.

Frank Jr. died in 2007, one day after the couple's 70th anniversary.

The restaurant, established in 1907, operates to this day at 239 Fourth Ave. N. downtown, run by their grandson, Todd Varallo.

To read the full obituary provided by Deborah Varallo, including details about services, click to the jump:

Mary “Eva” Reale Varallo

Mary “Eva” Reale Varallo - Age 96 of Nashville TN. Died March 1, 2013. She was preceded in death by her husband Frank Anthony Varallo, Jr, who she worked alongside for more than half of Nashville oldest restaurant. The restaurant has been operating for 105 years.

Eva Varallo was working at the well-known confectionary Candyland at Seventh & Church Street, which was right down the street from Varallo’s. Intending on joining the convent, Frank Varallo had other ideas and they were married in 1937. Together they worked side by side greeting and serving thousands of customers day-in and day-out until they retired in 1998. A few years later Frank passed away, one day after their 70th Wedding Anniversary.

She and Frank wrote a book together called “Thoughts From the Bottom of the Chili Bowl” which was inspired by daily thoughts from their patrons at the restaurant. Now that Frank and Even are joined in the Kingdom of God, we are drawn to one of their favorite Robert Browning quotes, which they included in their book: “My times are in thy hands; Grow Old along with me, The Best is Yet to Be.”

Their grandson, Todd Varallo, continues the Varallo tradition as he manages Varallo’s Restaurant on 4th Avenue North.

Visitation will be Thursday, March 7, 7-10 pm at Christ the King Catholic Church; Funeral Mass will be Friday, March 8, at 10:00 am at Christ the King with Reverend Dexter Brewer, Celebrant; 3001 Belmont Boulevard, Nashville 37212. Burial will be Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

Due to a scheduling conflict, the Visitation and the Funeral Mass have been moved to St. Stephen Catholic Community, 14544 Lebanon Road, Old Hickory TN 37138; phone number is 615.758.2424;

Thursday, March 7: Visitation: 6:00 — 9:00 pm; with the Rosary being said at 8:00 pm (St. Stephen Church)

Friday, March 8: Funeral Mass 10:00 am; celebrated by Father Pat Kibby, pastor at St. Stephen Church

Burial will follow at Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in her name; 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis TN 38105 or visit

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