A POPULAR takeaway owner who was devoted to his family has died suddenly aged 54.

Tributes have flooded in for Gianni Vacca who was the face of one of Barrow’s best-known takeaways.

Mr Vacca co-owned Santa Marina takeaway in Buccleuch Street alongside his brother Roberto for the past 17 years.

In 1984 the pair moved from Sardinia to Cumbria where they set up their own business, Pizzeria Italia.

They then eventually established Santa Marina in 2003.

Known as the ‘face’ of Santa Marina - an Italian takeaway specialising in pizza and pasta dishes - Mr Vacca was ‘hugely well-known’ in the community.

“He absolutely loved his job,” said his son James.

“His brother Rob worked in the back.

“He was at the front as the face of the takeaway.

“It was very much a partnership.”

James described his dad as a ‘devoted’ family man who ‘played a daily role’ in his life.

“He devoted all his time and poured his whole life into me,” he said.

“He loved family.

“I have two kids and he was utterly devoted to them.

“He always picked them up from school and made such an effort.

“He always wanted to take us back to Sardinia and we kept putting it off, then eventually last summer we took the whole family to his home.

“I am so glad we did that.”

James said his dad’s passing will ‘leave a huge hole’ in all their lives.

“He was such a big part of our daily lives,” he said.

“We will especially miss his help as parents.

“He helped out so much.”

Gianni’s brother, Roberto, said his death has ‘ripped his heart out’.

“He has been a massive part of my life since I can remember,” he said.

“He was like a second dad to my children.

“I will miss him terribly.

“It is very frightening that I am going to have to carry on the business on my own.

“We have been business partners and best friends for decades.

“We came to England together as young boys and raised our children together.

“We will all him miss him so much.”

Mr Vacca is survived by his son James and his fiancée Pam, brother Roberto and grandsons Callum and George.