Mr. Orlando, years ago, at one of his bars. --Supplied photo

Mr. Orlando, years ago, at one of his bars. --Supplied photo

‘He was the party’

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Friends mourn passing of Tony O

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By Tim Hadac

If the Southwest Side had a king of good times, Anthony Orlando Sr. was it.

Widely and affectionately known as “Tony O” to his fans, Mr. Orlando died on Saturday, Jan. 20. He was 75 years old.

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Mr. Orlando, years ago, at one of his bars. –Supplied photo

Over the years, Mr. Orlando owned three bars: one in Bridgeport near 31st and Emerald, one in Garfield Ridge near Archer and Central and his final one—Studio 31–in Archer Heights at 5147 S. Archer (southeast corner of Archer and Kolin). Studio 31 closed several years ago. He also owned O Dogs, a hot dog stand near Archer and Central, years ago.

“Tony O did more than host parties,” said Clearing resident Frank Battaglia. “He was the party. People would go to [Studio 31] just to see him. He was cool. He had a real presence, kind of like Harry Caray did years ago. Whatever his bar was called, you knew you were in Tony O’s place.”

Others agreed.

“Tony O was a friend to everyone, whether you knew him a month or a lifetime,” said Garfield Ridge resident Toni LaRocco, who first met Mr. Orlando in 1996 and said her parents knew him for more than 40 years. “He had a huge heart of gold and an infectious smile but didn’t tolerate nonsense. Tony was always dressed to impress and had a nickname for everyone. When you went to his bar (Studio 31) you were treated like family. He looked out for everyone. The world lost a beautiful soul.”

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Studio 31 was a familiar sight for years at Archer and Kolin. –Supplied photo

Paul Caruana added, “He always was the wisest guy I’ll ever know, a no-nonsense yet very compassionate man. He treated everyone like a family member…He could cheer you up with just a few words, and if you were feeling down, he’d guaranteed to change your whole demeanor. Dio vi benedica, Tony.”

Mr. Orlando was the husband of Patricia (nee Messina); father of Anthony (Renee Saunoras), Joseph (Gissel) and Jennifer (Jeff) Grek; grandfather of Gianna, Jade, Nicolette, Vanessa, Joanna, Juliet, Jacob and Jerson; the son of the late Phillip and late Mazie Orlando; brother of Angeline (late Sunny) Rutman and Santo (Libby) Orlando; uncle of Phillip, Marie (Joe) and Chuck (Laurette).

Funeral Mass was Friday, Jan. 26 at Nativity of Our Lord Church, 653 W. 37th St. Cremation was to follow. Arrangements were by Dalcamo Funeral Home.

4 Comments

  1. Kim on January 28, 2024 at 8:23 pm

    A true Legend loved by all!’ He will be missed terribly! All his bars awesome!
    Love you Tony O!



  2. Jackie Krow on January 28, 2024 at 9:25 pm

    Studio 31…..always the Best of Times!!! We raised lots of money for charities with celebrity bartender, softball games, Ladies Nights and BBQ’s. I will miss Tony incredibly. I took for granted he would be here forever, I will need to get used to knowing he is gone. Godspeed my dear friend, Tony, Tony O…..I hope you are at peace, no longer ill, and greeted my Danny in Heaven with the same infectious smile you had for us each time we walked in. I will miss you, The Wanderer, for the rest of my days. Thank you for your friendship. ❤️



  3. Bobbi and Angie on January 28, 2024 at 10:06 pm

    From Cabaret to Studio 31, we all followed him to wherever he went. We always were greeted with a big smile. At one point, I needed a place to have a baby shower. He offered me Studio 31 for 2 hrs.(open bar also). My parents(strangers to him) were greeted with respect and of course his big smile . When you were friends with Tony O-you were friends for life. He will be sadly missed but forever remembered as the one and only “Tony O “. Deepest regrets to his wife, children and family.



  4. Cindy Sweeney on January 29, 2024 at 1:26 am

    Rest in peace Tony💕💕💕💕



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