GREENWICH, Conn. — Regis Philbin called an Italian restaurant in Connecticut his second home. Saturday night, the owners of Valbella held his regular table empty as a tribute to the longtime television host, who died Friday at the age of 88.
“I definitely treated him as my friend,” Valbella general manager Nick Zherka told WABC. “I told him, anything you need, please let me know.”
Philbin frequented the Greenwich restaurant for 22 years, the television station reported. Philbin and his wife, Joy Philbin, dined every Saturday night at Valbella, Greenwich Time reported.
Zherka, who said he last saw Regis Philbin on July 18, considered the beloved TV personality a father figure and recalled his kindness through the years.
”If there was any private parties, like birthday parties, he would go over and wish them (a) happy birthday,” Zherka told WABC. “People loved him.”
Radio host Mark Simone, one of Philbin’s close friends, said on Twitter that the host was “a beloved TV legend and exactly the same on the air and off.”
“We were supposed to see each other tonight at Valbella as usual on Saturday night,” Simone told Greenwich Time. “I will be at Valbella tonight paying tribute.”