Nydia Rivera-Mehl of Johnny’s Pizzeria dies at 51

July 20, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Nydia Rivera-Mehl of Johnny’s Pizzeria dies at 51
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Nydia Rivera-Mehl, who worked at Johnny’s Pizzeria for more than 15 years, died on Tuesday, July 14. She was 51.

“Personally, I have known Nydia for eight years,” said Cathy Williams, office and events manager for the Sunset Park Business Improvement District. “Everyone knows her or knows of her. Gone too soon. I will miss her.”

The loss came as a surprise to Johnny’s owner John Miniaci and to the eatery’s customers.

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“It happened so quickly,” said Miniaci. “She wasn’t feeling well sometime in early July. I got a message from my brother saying that she’s not feeling well and was going to get checked out for an asthma attack. They admitted her for a few days. They took an x-ray and they found something on the x-rays and looked at the biopsy.”

After her release, Rivera-Mehl was back at the store during her day off.

“We were closing and she said she was going home,” Miniaci said. “Her husband was walking her and at the corner she ended up fainting. She was taken to NYU Langone. They admitted her right away. They brought her back and gave her medicine but had to put her on a respirator. And she was getting worse by the day. They said there’s nothing they could do. It ended up being terminal cancer and it happened so unexpectedly.”

Rivera-Mehl was a customer when she got the job at Johnny’s. She saw the frustration on the employees’ faces when they had to stop what they were doing to pick up the phones. She asked if they needed anyone to answer the phones and Miniaci decided to give her a shot.

“Even though I may be the face of Johnny’s Pizzeria, she was the voice of Johnny’s Pizzeria,” said Miniaci. “Everybody knew her by first name.”

Rivera-Mehl was very involved with OLPH Church, including the OLPH Twirlers, of which her daughter Tabitha was a member.

“I first met her when both of our boys joined the Boy Scouts at OLPH,” said Sheila K. Hoban-Pisciotta, one of Rivera-Mehl’s closest friends. “On Saturday when I would be on my way to mass, I would order a pie to take home afterwards.  All I had to do was open the door and yell ‘Naddie!’ and she would reply ‘okay half and half six o’clock.’”

Miniaci said he will always remember her for her kind heart.

“I was grateful to be part of her life as a friend,” he said. “She brought life and great stories to the area and she was great to people.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay funeral expenses.

“Nydia ‘Nanny’ Rivera-Mehl was an amazing and dedicated mother to her three children, Ricky, Mikey, and her princess Tabitha,” the GoFundMe page read. “We will remember her as a loving aunt, sister, daughter, sister-in-law, friend, wife and soulmate to her husband Richie.”

To donate, visit https://bit.ly/2Bc9chy.

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