BRADENTON -- Jose Baserva, 57, owner of Jose's Real Cuban Food from 2007 until the restaurant closed in May, died at a hospice facility early Friday.
His restaurant at 8799 Cortez Road was featured on a 2011 episode of Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."
Mr. Baserva was known for his genial personality as host at Jose's as well as the authenticity of the food he served.
Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Mr. Baserva moved to Bradenton in 1998, said his wife, Darlene Baserva, who confirmed her husband's death.
Jose's achieved notoriety far beyond its 26 seats after several customers contacted "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and suggested host Guy Fieri produce a segment there.
So many fans turned out for the viewing party it was moved across the street to Ace's Lounge in Bradenton. Fieri dined on Baserva's picadillo, paella and boliche, raving about each dish, the Herald reported in 2011.
The "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" show was a highlight for Mr. Baserva.
"This is the second-best day ever. The only one better is when I married my wife," Mr. Baserva said after the TV show aired.
Mr. Baserva suffered a fractured skull in a fall in October, followed by a seizure in May, which left him in a coma.
This month, Al and Jose Quintana, owners of Café Havana, another family restaurant at 1440 63rd Ave. E., announced they had acquired Jose's Real Cuban Food restaurant. They are planning to renovate and reopen Jose's as a Café Havana location.
"He was a marvelous, incredible kind of guy. He will be missed," Al Quintana said of Mr. Baserva's passing.
The viewing will be held at Covell Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 4232 26th St. W., Bradenton 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 24. Services will be held at The Bridge Church at Palma Sola Bay, 4000 75th St. W., Bradenton 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 25.
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.