Obituary:Aldo Da Prato
FEW citizens of this town will have heard of the recent death of Mr. Aldo da Prato without a sense of sadness.
His name was synonomous with fish'n'chips and many thousands of local people will have fond memories of tucking into a supper from the Fish'n'Chicken which he founded in the 1960s.
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Mr da Prato passed away at Rouge Valley Health Centre in Ajax, Canada surrounded by his loving family, on February 22 and was buried last Thursday, February 25, following his funeral Mass at St Isaac Jogues Roman Catholic Church in Pickering.
For a certain generation, he will also be remembered for his Lido cafe in Church Street, which changed the face of local fast food dining.
After the post-war period of rationing and the drab, grey days of the 1950s, Aldo Da Prato's 'new take' on dining out was eagerly accepted by local people - and especially a young generation who were dancing to the Beatles and the Stones.
In the parlance of the time, the Lido was 'mod' .. milk shakes, Italian coffee and of course, superbly cooked fish'n'chips went down a treat with teenagers and adults alike. There had never been anything like it before and, it can be argued, there has never been anything like it since.
Never afraid of hard work, Aldo Da Prato was, until his retirement, often seen in his white 'shop coat' behind the counter of the equally popular 'Fish'n'Chicken' in Ballymoney Street.
One Ballymena man who called the Times to mourn the passing of a 'Ballymena legend' said: "I can remember the punters queuing up outside Aldo's, especially at the weekend. Those were the days before the Chinese take-away or the pizza. Aldo Da Prato served up some of the best grub I have ever tasted and I bet that goes for thousands of Ballymena people," he said.
On his retirement, Mr. Da Prato went to live in Canada but remained a frequent visitor to the town which had become home.
A keen golfer, he enjoyed a long association with Ballymena Golf Club and was elected Captain of Raceview in 1976.
Member and Club Press Officer, Jimmy McCloy, who succeeded Mr Da Prato as captain at Raceview, paid tribute to him.
"Aldo was a great character. He was a very genuine fella, very down to earth, even though he was a very successful businessman in the town at that time," he said.
"He was a member at Raceview for maybe around 20 years and he was very well thought of around the club.
"As well as enjoying his golf, he would also have attended many social functions, like dances, in the club, along with his wife Eva," added Jimmy.
Mr da Prato is survived by his wife Eva and his children Joseph, and daughter-in-law Sheena, Carol and son-in-law Ken, son Paul and daughter-in-law Virginia, daughter Antoinette and son-in-law Paul, 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.