The Cleveland Italian American Heritage Committee along with Honorary Co-Chairs Mayor Justin M. Bibb, Council President Blaine A. Griffin, and Councilman Michael D. Polensek are pleased to present the 2022 Honorees for Cleveland Italian American Heritage Month.
The City of Cleveland has been honoring outstanding individuals, businesses, and organizations within the Italian American community for the past 19 years during a special ceremony that takes place on the first Monday in October. It is an important tradition started by former Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone.
The 2022 Opening Ceremony for Cleveland Italian American Heritage Month will take place in the Cleveland City Hall Rotunda on Monday, October 3, beginning at 6:00p.m. The event is free and open to the public and all are invited to enjoy a buffet dinner after the ceremony compliments of the Italian Sons & Daughters of America.
Business – Biagio’s Donut Shop & Pizza
Biagio’s Donut Shop and Pizzeria was founded in 1963 by its namesake, Biagio Cappadonna, in Eastlake, OH. Biagio Cappadonna left his home in Messina, Sicily, at age 15, and immigrated with his aunt and uncle to the Little Italy neighborhood on Cleveland’s eastside in 1952. He worked in Little Italy at Presti's Bakery, coming in on his days off to learn, develop, and cultivate his true passion, donuts.
In 1962, then 25-year-old Biagio opened a donut and pizza shop in Wickliffe, OH, with his brother, Tony. A year later, he opened his own shop in Eastlake. The first day, he grossed under $100 and wondered, "What did I do?" The work ethic, drive, and determination of the first-generation Italian immigrant paid off and almost 60 years later that same family-run donut shop employs over 30 people in the Lake County area and serves thousands of smiling customers every day.
Biagio’s has grown and expanded from a small donut shop and pizzeria to the premier establishment it is today, being featured countless times in The Plain Dealer, voted Cleveland’s Best Donut time and time again, winning the Fan Favorite Donut Award at the Cleveland Donut Fest in 2020 and even being voted top 100 donut shops in the county (only greater Cleveland area donut shop on the list.)
Today, Biagio’s is open 7 days a week at 35523 Vine St. in Eastlake, OH, to serve their lifelong customers from across northeast Ohio. From a classic glazed donut to newer flavors such as peanut butter and jelly, the same great tradition remains with almost 60 years of excellence!
City Employee, Cleveland
Michael A. LaMonica
Michael LaMonica began working at the City of Cleveland Water Division in 1985 as a water pipe repairman. In 1988, he moved to the Meter Department and one year later became its foreman. The Division named Michael Employee of the Month in March 2002.
In 2003, Michael moved to the Service and Maintenance Division of Cleveland Water. From 2012 to the present, he has served as Manager of General Maintenance. He is particularly proud to hold this position because his father held the same position when he worked for the Cleveland Water Division.
Michael’s grandparents, Michael and Rosanna Canzoni La Monica, emigrated from Foggia, Italy, and married in Cleveland in 1925. They lived on E. 124 St. in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. Michael’s parents William and Virginia LaMonica were born and raised in Little Italy and that is where Michael spent the first few years of his life before the family, which consisted of Michael and four siblings, moved to Wickliffe, OH, and then eventually settled in Mentor, OH. Michael graduated from Mentor High School in 1979.
Michael has been married to Michele for 28 years and has two children, a son and a daughter. In his free time, Michael is an avid golfer.
James A. Lucchese
James Lucchese was born in Cleveland in 1956. He was one of three children born to Joseph and Marilyn Lucchese and is the grandson of James and Katherine Lucchese, who emigrated from Palermo, Sicily, in 1918. While growing up he was involved in Boy Scouts and in 1973, he became an Eagle Scout of Troop 515. Jim graduated in 1974 from West Technical High School, and then attended Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, OH. Jim currently serves on the worship team at Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church.
Jim and his wife, Chris, were married on May 3, 1986 and now live in Strongsville, OH. Jim has been involved in sports his whole life, first playing on baseball and football teams and then officiating baseball, softball, football, and volleyball games. Jim has coached youth baseball for 27 years and watched 13 players from his teams get drafted by professional teams. In 2002, Jim joined the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio and is a member of Lodge #781.
The North Italian Social Club was founded in 1925 with 20 members. In 1929 the name was changed to The North Italian Club. The club building, located at 3121 West 33 St. in Cleveland, built by the members, was inaugurated on May 12, 1934. The North Italian Women’s Auxiliary Club, was incorporated in 1935. In 1984, the men and women groups joined forces to become one.
Jim joined The North Italian Club on May 29, 2003 and became President on May 19, 2015. When he became president, there were only approximately 90 members. Under Jim’s leadership, the club has grown to over 200 members. The North Italian Club sponsors and participates in a number of activities that help bring Italian families together to celebrate their Italian heritage including the Club Picnic, Club Mass, Polenta Dinner, Christmas Party and Columbus Day Parade. Jim loves to see the many smiling faces at club meetings every month and says it has been an honor to serve as its president for over 7 years.
Stanley J. Lorence
Stanley currently works at Plantscaping and Blooms in floral and event design. His mother’s grandparents, Giuseppe and Rosario Bocchino, came to America through Ellis Island and settled in the Clark-Fulton area of Cleveland and attended St. Rocco’s Church. He grew up at his grandmother’s side, learning how to cook Italian recipes, and still enjoys cooking Italian cuisine today.
His involvement with the Italian Cultural Garden, our community’s cultural monument to Italy, began in spring of 2012 with a Facebook friendship with Executive Director Joyce Mariani. This meeting on social media sparked a great friendship which led to many late-night conversations comparing ideas about garden design and developing strategies for creating an Italian Renaissance-style-garden on a limited budget.
Stanley volunteers his time at the Italian Cultural Garden whenever his schedule permits. He plants the urns and the entrance planters, does the trimming and other maintenance work, and decorates the garden for Christmas. He also helps with the very popular Opera in the Italian Cultural Garden each year.
Besides actively working in the garden, Stanley has enjoyed learning about its history through his conversations with Joyce Mariani as well as about future plans for the garden, including the proposed Pantheon structure which will honor 200 Italians. Stanley said it is through his work at the garden that he expresses the pride he feels for his Italian heritage, and he cannot think of a better way to do it. He urges all Italian Americans to support this beautiful garden which is a monument to our great Italian culture.
- Biagio and Joey Biagio and Joey
- Stanley J. Lorence Stanley J. Lorence
- James Lucchese James Lucchese
- Biagio’s Donut Shop... Biagio’s Donut Shop...
- Michael LaMonica Michael LaMonica