Last week, Burlington lost one of its more charismatic restaurant owners. On March 15, 36-year-old Vehbi Ozgur "Ozzy" Giral, who co-owned the Blue Cat Steak and Wine Bar with his wife, Mariasha Giral, died unexpectedly at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
Ruled accidental by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the death was attributed to a blocked airway after Giral choked on a piece of meat while eating dinner at his home in Burlington. Paramedics arrived within 15 minutes but were unable to revive the young restaurateur.
Ozzy Giral immigrated to the U.S. for college from Ankara, Turkey. He met Mariasha while attending Berkeley College's business program in New York City, where she was attending the New School.
The couple married, moved to Vermont and opened the Blue Cat in 2006. "It was a big year for us," Mariasha recalls. In Burlington, Ozzy was known around town for his easy charm and outgoing character. "He just loved being around the people," his wife recalls. "He was the ultimate people person, so [the restaurant] gave him an opportunity to see all sorts of people all the time."
No public memorial services are planned at this time. Ozzy spent untold hours at the restaurant, cooking, hosting, serving and more, but Mariasha says it will soldier on in his absence. "We shut down for a couple days," she says, "but we opened back up on Friday [March 19]. The restaurant's just going to keep going."
The original print version of this article was headlined "All Cats Go to Heaven"
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