Get Dinner and a Song: Award-winning Virginia Beach Server Serenades Guests in Multiple Languages
“Buono sera, hello my friends, how are you?”
The words roll off Vinny Mosquera’s tongue with a soothing cadence, hinting at what’s to come. Four guests are seated at the table in front of him at Isle of Capri restaurant. They’ve come for the food, but also for Mosquera, to hear him sing.
“We love Vinny,” said Lew Jalbert, a Virginia Beach resident. “That’s why we asked for him.”
The 82-year-old server has a following. He sings at the drop of the hat in four languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and English. Mosquera also recently won a local hospitality award for his job performance at the Oceanfront restaurant on the sixth floor of the Holiday Inn & Suites.
“Where are you from?” he asks a family sitting next to a window overlooking the ocean on a recent evening.
“Ohio,” says the woman.
“I left my heart in Ohio,” Mosquera belts out a Tony Bennet lyric with a twist.
He can’t help himself.
Mosquera was born in Spain. When he was 21 years old, he joined the Spanish Navy. His job was serving meals to the captain of the ship.
He later worked on a cruise ship, again as a server. In the 1960s, when he moved to New York, he landed jobs in the Rainbow Room and other popular night clubs. He relocated to Newport News with his wife in the 1980s and worked for years at the Italian restaurant Al Fresco.
In 2017, after moving to Virginia Beach, he started working at Isle of Capri.
“Is it your birthday?” he asks a man, who nods yes.
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you,” Mosquera pulls the song out from deep in his chest in English with a hint of a Spanish accent.
His favorite song, which he performed earlier that evening for another table, is “Besame Mucho,” which is Spanish for “kiss me a lot.”
“Bravo,” said one of the guests, clapping and smiling after the rendition.
“He’s an amazing guy,” said Az Tamouro, Isle of Capri’s server supervisor. “He’s got a great voice.”
Tamouro said customers ask “where’s the singer?” when Mosquera isn’t there. He works Sunday through Wednesday.
Mosquera is also considered one of the best servers on the staff.
“He’s actually a beast,” Tamouro said.
One of Mosquera’s signature moves is delivering four full plates of food in one hand by placing each one between his fingers, while picking up a fifth one in his other hand.
“We love him,” said chef Pasquale Arcese, whose parents opened Isle of Capri 70 years ago. “He works circles around some of the young guys.”
Mosquera said he loves coming to work, seeing the view of the ocean and meeting people. Dave Cox, director of food and beverage, said Mosquera has no plans to retire any time soon.
Bueno, say his guests.
“In this business, it’s how sociable you are sometimes that makes the customer comfortable,” said Tamouro. “He has all the requirements to be the greatest server.”
Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, firstname.lastname@example.org