By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
The family of the late Z’s Corner Cafe owner John “Johnny Z” Ziada will unveil a street sign christening the cafe’s landmark corner of Campbell Avenue and Court Street as “Z’s Corner.”
On Saturday, just steps from the cafe’s front door, Ziada’s wife, Susie, and their daughters, Samira and Zienna, will pull off a shroud draped from a utility pole to reveal the Kelly green sign in memory of the popular restaurateur and spirited volunteer.
The ceremony is set for 6 p.m. and will take place in front of loved ones, friends, patrons and city leaders, including Mayor Nancy R. Rossi. The public is invited.
Other family members joining the celebration will include Ziada’s father, Sami Ziada; his sister, Adele Gaudino; and his brothers-in-law, Porky Gaudino and Andy Sharpe.
Ziada, who had owned and operated Z’s Corner Cafe since 1997, died Feb. 10, 2022, after having pancreatic cancer. He was predeceased by his mother, Samira Dabai Ziada.
Rossi said the rectangular street sign, bearing a white border with bold white lettering, will immortalize Ziada’s legacy of volunteerism in the city he called home for 53 years.
After the sign unveiling, new local cover band The Richie, Rob & Bobby Show, featuring Richie Weber, Rob Hames and Bobby Moran, will play a special tribute concert celebrating their longtime friend, the incomparable Johnny Z.
Weber, the trio’s drummer and Carrigan Intermediate School’s principal, said Ziada was the rock of the West Haven music scene who gave many up-and-coming bands their first gig.
The free show will take place at Z’s, of course — the live music mecca that Ziada built at 407 Campbell Ave.
Rossi said the civic-minded Ziada dedicated much of his life to serving his community. Before his untimely passing, he devoted his time, talents and energy to booking and coordinating the bands for the city’s centennial events, Savin Rock Festival and Christmas tree lighting, as well as the WimBash music festival.
On Aug. 28, the City Council honored the Ziada family during its meeting at City Hall, where the Z’s Corner sign was shown to the public for the first time.
The sign effort was led by Councilwomen Colleen O’Connor, R-at large, and Bridgette J. Hoskie, D-1, who represents the district that includes Z’s.
According to those who knew him best, Ziada gave hope and help to countless West Haveners through the years. He is the embodiment of service and the definition of a true Westie.
So stop by Z’s on Saturday night to toast Johnny, say hello to Susie and the girls, and rock out to The Richie, Rob & Bobby Show.
Do it for Johnny.