The restaurant closed down almost three years ago, but Carol Montello knew she wanted to spend her final hours there

By Alex Heigl
Updated December 01, 2015 11:45 AM
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Credit: NJ Advance Media/Landov

Carol “Chubby” Montello was a fixture at the restaurant that shared her name in Hopewell Borough, New Jersey. And though Chubby’s Luncheonette has been closed for nearly three years, Montello didn’t want to spend her last hours anywhere else.

Montello, who died in October at 78, ran the restaurant for 36 years. So after just five hours in a local hospital, her loved ones made arrangements to have her hospital bed wheeled into the eatery, where she spent her last 11 hours.

“She didn’t really want to go to the hospital,” Michelle Hamilton, who Montello nannied before taking over the restaurant, told New Jersey.com. “It was probably her first time in a hospital and her last.”

Chubby’s had a set of unofficial rules: Newcomers sat in front and regulars maintained their seats at the back. Another rule: Chubby rarely showed up until 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., even though the place opened at 5 a.m. Regulars would make coffee and heat up muffins and breakfast food on the stove before she arrived.

Montello “took care of her community,” Hopewell resident and Chubby’s regular Joe Vaccarino said. One customer at the restaurant was known only as “Tiny.” The elderly woman never had any money, and no one knew where she lived, but Montello made sure she always ate for free at the restaurant.

“The store closed three years ago,” Vaccarino said. “There was no heat. She was freezing. I bought her one of those ceramic heaters. She sat in there all the time. I figured she was sick, but it never really dawned on me how bad it was,” he said.

Montello complained of chest and back pains two years ago, but refused treatment or diagnoses. It was in keeping with her tough personality, Borough Mayor Paul Anzano recalled to NJ.com.

“I went there with my daughter,” Anzano said. “We loved going there. One time there was a hair in my daughter’s egg. She said ‘eat around it.’ ”

“She was just a good person and she’ll be missed,” he added.