SALT LAKE CITY -- County Councilman and restaurateur Sam Granato has passed away from a lengthy battle with cancer, FOX 13 has confirmed.
Councilman Granato died Wednesday afternoon. He had been undergoing treatments for cancer.
"The family of Sam Granato is saddened to announce the passing of their beloved husband, father, grandfather, and hero. Sam passed away peacefully at home this afternoon surrounded by loved ones. He fought an amazing battle with cancer for over two years," his family said in a statement.
Councilman Granato served on the Salt Lake County Council since 2013. He was also the owner of Granato's Imports, a chain of Italian delis and a restaurant supplier. Granato's Imports on Redwood Road is a city staple and a place for Utah political figures to be seen.
“When you walked into his deli, it didn’t matter if you were President Monson or a laborer off the street," said Dale Cox, a close friend of Granato's. "He’d walk up to you and you were the most important person to him right then and there.”
Cox said Granato was an advocate for working men and women.
“When budgets came up, he was always an advocate for the working men and women of the county," he said. "Fire, police, streets, the men and women that served the people of Salt Lake County he served them, that was his boss.”
The Salt Lake County Council grieved the loss on Wednesday night.
"Sam was a true friend to all of us on the Salt Lake County Council, and to all who knew him. Our hearts ache for the loss of a colleague and friend," the council said in a joint statement. "We will deeply miss his kindness and the thoughtfulness he brought to his life of public service."
Councilwoman Aimee Winder-Newton also posted on Twitter, "it won't be the same without him."
Although he had been ill for years, Councilman Granato recently made an appearance to accept an award from the Salt Lake County Democratic Party earlier this month for his years of service.
Across the state, people of all political persuasions mourned his passing.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who campaigned for office at his restaurant, remembered him as a mentor (read her full statement below).
"I will always be grateful that I found my way to Sam and that he chose to bring me into his family. Sam loved an underdog, and supported people who stood on principal — he will be missed by all who knew him, and his legacy will be cherished by many more. Rest in peace my dear friend," she wrote.
The Utah Democratic Party memorialized Councilman Granato as a "people person."
"When you talked to Sam, he made you feel like you were the most important person in the room. Without hesitation, Sam was one of the most beloved elected officials in Utah, in part because everyone was welcome to a meal at his home, Granato Imports," the party said. "Sam was a bridge-builder in a world of political islands. We express our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, customers and constituents."
In a Facebook post, Salt Lake County mayor Ben McAdams reflected on Granato's life.
On Capitol Hill, there was also grief over his passing. Granato served with the Governor's Office of Economic Development and as chairman of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission for a time.
"He was loved by many and will be missed by all. Sam was a good friend of mine and my heart hurts for his family," said DABC spokesman Terry Wood.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, also eulogized Councilman Granato as "a good man."
"He was a friend to everyone! In politics, he worked with all people, regardless of party affiliation. He will be sincerely missed," the governor posted on Twitter.
"The Utah Senate Democrats mourn the passing of our dear friend, Salt Lake County Councilman Sam Granato. Sam was a kind and generous man and a fiercely loyal friend. He was also one of the finest public servants our state has seen. We offer our sincere condolences to Ann and the entire Granato family," the minority caucus said in a statement.
In 2010, Granato ran for U.S. Senate against Sen. Mike Lee. In his own statement, Sen. Lee said he was "lucky" to have interacted with Granato during their race.
This is a breaking news story. Updates on FOX 13 and fox13now.com as information becomes available.
Read the post from Mayor Ben McAdams:
"I’m so sad to hear of the passing of beloved Salt Lake County Councilman Sam Granato. Love you, Sam. You will be missed by so many. Isaac especially loved Sam, or as he called him, the Pickle Guy, because Sam gave special attention and behind the scenes tours to Isaac whenever we went to his restaurant. Isaac always walked away with a Granato’s-sized bucket of pickles. He would proudly proclaim to whomever he shared his pickles with that his friend Sam Granato gave the pickles to Isaac because he’s his favorite McAdams. Sam’s heart was always big. Bigger even than those buckets of pickles. I think everybody thought Sam considered them his favorite. We miss you immensely."
Read the statement from Mayor Jackie Biskupski:
“Throughout my career in public service Sam Granato was one of my closest friends, strongest champions, and trusted advisor. Whether a Democrat or a Republican, if you were in public service in Salt Lake County, you most likely spent time at Granato’s eating great food and learning from Sam—a man who could connect with people better than anyone.
I will always be grateful that I found my way to Sam and that he chose to bring me into his family. Sam loved an underdog, and supported people who stood on principal—he will be missed by all who knew him, and his legacy will be cherished by many more. Rest in peace my dear friend.”
Read the statement from Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke:
"Sam Granato’s commitment to the greater public good will live on through all of us who have been influenced by him. He was a one-of-a-kind public servant, business owner, community leader, and family man. Karyn and I send our love to Ann and their children and grandchildren."
Read the statement from the Utah Democratic Party:
"Salt Lake County Councilman Sam Granato was first and foremost, a people person. When you talked to Sam, he made you feel like you were the most important person in the room. Without hesitation, Sam was one of the most beloved elected officials in Utah, in part because everyone was welcome to a meal at his home, Granato Imports. Sam was a bridge-builder in a world of political islands. We express our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, customers and constituents."
House Minority Leader Brian King:
House Speaker Greg Hughes: