It is with great sadness that the family of Agostino (Gus) Lombardo announces his passing whilst on holiday with his children Louisa and Alexander and grandson Freddie in Sardinia earlier this month. He was 69.
Gus was a popular customer at New Covent Garden Market, and had been a regular since 1969, starting at the old market when the family took on their first shop in High Street North, Dunstable. His brother Alex, his son and his nephews have all been regular visitors over the years to provide support, and he loved to tease and barter with everyone for the best deals. He considered many of the people he dealt with good friends and was proud to have been in the recent photo with the market community who have been there for 30+ years (he is front and centre of the image below), and loved to reminisce about the history of the market.
Born in Bedford, Gus left school to join the family business aged 15. 'Lombardo's Continental Foodstore' was open from 6am-11pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. By the late 70s, the family had purchased a nursery in Wheathampstead, growing fruit and vegetables for the shop. Shortly after, the family acquired the Posthorn Restaurant in Albion Street, Dunstable, and Gus had an ice cream round with the Tonibell company. In the 90s, the family opened the Millefiori Restaurant in Church Street and from 2007-2014, they also ran the Adesso Restaurant. In 1998, Lombardo's Delicatessen moved to West Street, where the business remains today.
As well as a wide and very close-knit family Gus leaves two children, Louisa (38) and Alexander (33) and a grandson Freddie (2). Louisa used to work in the deli on Saturdays and during school & university holidays and also helped in the restaurants – Adesso and Il Millefiori. Alexander also helped in the deli and restaurants growing up and, over the past year, has been doing the weekly run up to New Covent Garden Market with Gus to stock up on the fruit and veg.
Gus was hard-working, determined, had an great work ethic and cared deeply about his customers and the community in Dunstable. He would not turn anyone away – never saying no to customers knocking on the door, even when the door was closed but the light was on. He was a perfectionist – many of his staff would joke about how particular he was stocking shelves and displaying items – he was always very fussy and incredibly proud of the deli. He would always want too much rather than not enough and would over order panettone for Christmas. He also took great pleasure from others enjoying their food and would often have samples for his customers.
He had an amazing memory and was great with numbers, despite leaving school at a young age. He always put others first and never had a bad word to say about anyone. His passions were horse racing and football and recently he had been attending Luton Town games with his brother Alex. He also enjoyed a game of cards, doing the crossword and Sudoku, and singing along very loudly to the Rat pack, Sam Cooke or The Drifters.
He was adored by his family and the response on Facebook and the hundreds of cards and flowers left for the family have shown that Gus was also much loved by the people of Dunstable, his community, which he had served for 54 years.
The funeral is on 4th October at St Mary’s Church at 11am. Click here for details. The family has set up a donation link for the British Heart Foundation, but will also be collecting for the Dunstable Food Bank – both in the deli and at the wake.