She was credited with turning Brady Street and Milwaukee's East Side into what it is today, but now Mimma Megna is closing down Mimma's to retire.
Megna said after almost 30 years working 14 hour days in the kitchen, surviving lung cancer and a heart attack, it's time to take care of herself.
Jeno Cataldo, co-owner of Jo Cats next door, said that's fair. He and other neighbors said she's spent her time on Brady Street taking care of others.
"It takes people like her to go into a neighborhood that maybe wasn't as popular as others and pound it out, make something happen," said Cataldo.
When Megna started cooking in 1989 it was for eight tables in a small room.
"If you have a vision, you make it work and business was rocketing up and up and up," she said.
Today, the restaurant has three storefronts of space. She built an institution and a legacy on Brady Street. Now, her neighbors at Jo Cats, the building's new owners, hope to preserve that.
"It wouldn't be right to see that turn into something that isn't in line with what this neighborhood is now," Cataldo said.
He isn't sure what the plans are for the building, but Cataldo expects to know by November. He hopes in the meantime, people will visit Megna while she's still there cooking.
Her retirement plans may include returning to Italy, where she was born, and writing a cook book of the recipes people have enjoyed for so long.
Mimma's last day open is Dec. 31.