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Remarkable Mama Arnolfo

1921 – 2021

“If food is there, people will be there.”

Frances C. Arnolfo of Fort Collins, mother of Silver Grill Owner John Arnolfo, died July 6, 2021 at age 100. She was renowned for her authentic Italian food (especially her homemade raviolis), which were the foundation for what she lived and loved:  bringing family and friends together to laugh, talk, tell jokes, and just indulge. 

Her culinary legend lives on along with her reputation as a knitter of extravagant, designer-level dresses, tops, hats, and more. 

Neighborhood hangout

While raising daughter Nancy and son John – both now Fort Collins residents – the Arnolfo house in California was the neighborhood hangout. And she loved it. We always had a fridge full of homemade food,” John said. “She was the master of the 30-minute homemade meal, even when eight hungry kids popped in.”

Power of entrepreneurship

Born Sept. 13, 1920 in Stockton, Calif. to Italian immigrants, she married John Arnolfo, Sr., in 1941. Over the years they owned several grocery stores in the San Francisco area, including Pick-‘n-Pay Market for 17 years, which was famous for its Italian deli and 25¢ sandwiches.

John Sr. and Frances taught their children the power of entrepreneurship. Today, daughter Nancy is President of The Idea Group Interior Design in Fort Collins, and son John owns Silver Grill Cafe in Fort Collins. 

Model A first date

The Silver Grill’s famous 1930 Model A “mascot” is the same vehicle John Sr. drove on his first date with Frances. In recent decades, Frances was Silver Grill’s ambassador, riding in the Model A during local parades and warmly greeting guests each weekend.


Frances was preceded in death by her husband, John Arnolfo, Sr.; father and mother, Frank and Mary Basti; and twin sister Mary Castellano. She is survived by daughter Nancy Ottino and husband William; son John Arnolfo, Jr.; and grandsons Zach and Sam Arnolfo, all of Fort Collins. 

Donation suggestion:  Pathways

The family requests that instead of sending flowers, please donate to Pathways, which provided incredibly compassionate hospice care to Frances. Send donations to Pathways, 305 Carpenter Road, Fort Collins, CO 80525, or visit

Momma A wine
Making Ravioli's
Flowers on Mother's Day