CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — When Jose Figueiredo moved to the United States from Portugal in 1974, he dreamed of opening his own restaurant.

That dream became a reality when Figueiredo opened Serra da Estrela in Cumberland, where he worked side-by-side with his wife for nearly four decades.

“It’s definitely a love story between him and my mom,” his son Nuno Figueiredo said. “It’s also a love story between him and his business, which is now his legacy.”

Jose Figueiredo passed away suddenly last week, according to his son.

“He spoke an international language from his heart, and inevitably, that’s what ended up giving out on him,” Nuno Figueiredo said.

The 73-year-old was well-known within the community and had a heart of gold, according to his daughter Paula Neves.

“Everybody was always welcome to walk in that door, in the kitchen, to say ‘hi’ … or learn how to cook,” Neves said. “He’d teach them his recipes.”

Serra da Estrela has been closed ever since his passing, as Nuno Figueiredo and Neves determine what to do next.

“He never wanted to stop,” Neves said. “He always thought he loved being in the kitchen, but he also loved seeing his customers … he treated everyone like family.”

While the loss of their father has left an unfillable void in their hearts, his children are comforted by the fact that his life had a storybook ending.

“On January 8th, there was still food going out of that kitchen made by him,” Nuno Figueiredo said. “That’s a comforting feeling, knowing that not many people get to write their own story and he wrote it.”

Nuno Figueiredo and his sister haven’t made any decisions on whether the restaurant will remain closed for good, since both of them are still grieving the loss of their father.

Regardless, the family plans on keeping his legacy alive long into the future.