Heard Directly from Local Clubs

The excerpts below are directly from a local club.  It will give you an idea of what others are doing and what you, or your group, might want to try.  Please share your local thoughts. actions and happenings with your fellow ROMEO's.  Check out the Gallery as well - we always appreciate pictures of each other.

From Dominick Giordano, Smithtown NY I am happy to report that the Romeo Club of  Smithtown has started our 3rd year!!
We celebrated by having our meeting at the diner it all started at. The Hauppauge Palace Diner in Smithtown.

From Jim Butler, Bellingham WAThe Bellingham club is about 20 years old; COVID had an affect on where we were meeting and loss of continuity until 2023.  We are active again!

From Arthur Smith of South Africa: Belong to an unofficial "Romeo club" consisting of +7 mature guys. We all were runners in our younger days participating in numerous ultra and shorter marathons. We get together once a month for breakfast for the past 4 years.

FROM ROCHESTER HILLS, MI ROMEO'S: We usually go by "Really Old Men Eating Out", but sometimes use Retired as well.  Our group ranges in ages from 69 to 95.  We used to travel the state of Michigan quite a bit after our Thursday coffee going to dive bars and out to lunch.  As the group has aged, we don't travel as often and we don't visit as many bars.  Currently, I am the youngest member and have been with the group for about 2 1/2 years.  I believe they started about 18 years ago by a group of guys who belonged to the Kiwanis club.  Those remaining Kiwanis members no longer attend their functions and now our ROMEO group comes from all walks of life.  I will say, we have a great time together!   Stanton Strauss  stantonstrauss@gmail.com

From Mark Church of our club has started: The ROMEOs of Smith Mountain Lake (SML), Virginia held its first meeting on May 18th at Hot Shots Bar and Grill. There were nine of us present and we have 18 that have expressed an interest. We have decided to meet every other Thursday at 11:30 am at different locations. Now in July, we have a growing group of about 20 gentlemen attending. Anyone interested can contact me,  wmarkchurch@gmail.com

From Don Myers, an interesting ROMEO Story:  We have been meeting together for more than 20 years as a group of retired men. The main thrust of our get-togethers is to read “The Daily Bible in Chronological Order” in 15 minute daily average readings at home which results in reading through the entire Bible in one year. Some of our members have done that for many years. Then we meet every Tuesday from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at “The Breakroom” at 4131 South Shingle Road (#7) in Shingle Springs, CA to have lunch together and discuss and study what we have read during the past week. It has been very rewarding for us and we will continue doing that for as long as we‘re around. Of course, since we are all human beings, other topics find their way into our conversation such as family, sports, finances, politics, etc., but we do intend to continue with the Bible study.

Sometime ‘way back when’ we heard about the name R.O.M.E.O. from a friend who is no longer with us. We thought the name sounded catchy, so we adopted it not knowing that it was a real thing. We tell all of our friends about it and after they quit laughing they think it’s great. I recently Googled “R.O.M.E.O.” because I thought there might be something there and your website came up. Big surprise ! ! ! None of us had any idea. Will you allow us to register as a R.O.M.E.O. Club for real?

From Richard Heller starting a NYC chapter:  as a recently retired attorney, I am starting a new chapter in New York City.  To help get started,  I’ve registered on Meet Up to schedule a ROMEO lunch in NYC.  Anyone interested can contact me, rsheller1@gmail.com

Sounds like a good idea, has anyone else tried this to start a club?

From Jack Butterworth:  We have a ROMEO Club in Bristol TN\VA existing 23 years. We have 100 members with 20-30 dining each Wednesday. We have speakers occasionally and have toured many businesses in our area to learn about our community. We have no rules or requirements, only socialization. We contribute $5 voluntarily to pay for speaker meals. We have a personalized coffee cup for members and guests. If anyone is in our area on a Wednesday, come on to a meeting We meet in a different site weekly and communicate via email. Give us a call. Contact Jack at  jbutter208@gmail.com or Archie Hubbard at ahubbard3rd@gmail.com

From Chris Wardlow on the Key West club:  I'm the proud founder member of the southernmost Romeo's!  We are located in The Southernmost City in the Continental US (KEY WEST, FLORIDA aka. THE CONCH REPUBLIC was established in April 1982 by my Uncle Dennis Wardlow.  He was the mayor in 1982 that created the conch republic in Key West Florida and he became the Conch Republic Prime Minister.  The island city has had many famous people and amazing things happen here over the years.  

My friends and I meet weekly for Happy Hour or meet out on our boats at the beautiful shallow sand bars that surround our amazing island and enjoy our 'back yard.'

We have been doing this for the past year so we are still small but we are growing slowly...and I will make sure we post some pictures of our small group of local Key Westers enjoying this GREAT Chapter in our lives...

We would like to plan some events in the near future that we hope others would attend.

Thank you and we feel blessed to be a part of this amazing group.

A new chapter in Repton Alabama (Sam Vess) writes: Read about some pilots meeting for lunch, called themselves ROMEO's. My three friends and I took to calling ourselves that. Didn't know it was real. Now we are 5 with guests on occasion. Would love to be the Alabama chapter. The local restaurants all know us as a group. Romeo3 out.

Gig Harbor Washington (Steve Skibbs):  We started a 8 person group in Gig Harbor, Washington about 5 years ago. We meet weekly and call it Taco Tuesday because that’s the first meal that we had. Nameless otherwise but we haven’t missed a week. During COVID, sometimes only 2 guys and we did Zoom meetings. We have enjoyed the camaraderie; It’s been a great support group too.  Welcome “Taco Tuesday” into the official ROMEO Club.

Gary McClure sent the following information on the Pine Bluff Arkansas club:   The Pine Bluff club has limited membership and is by invitation only. We have five members and meet on Wednesday at 11:45 for an hour. When a member is visited by family members they are invited to attend. Meetings are held each week unless on a holiday, or a majority of members are not going to be present. The meeting place is selected by a member each week and each member is called to inform him where we are meeting on Tuesday. Some members will inform us where we are going the next week but some members like to keep this information unknown until Tuesday. We do repeat meeting places but try to find new places to meet each week. We also have our favorite meeting places that we frequent, and are joyful greeted and recognized each week by the proprietor when we appear.

The following article was published in our local newspaper, The Commercial, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

“The FIVESOME is part of a widespread phenomenon known as ROMEO, for Retired Old Men Eating Out. The five men, retirees all, have been meeting for a weekly lunch for years. Their conversation tends to be "like a barbell," as one of them put it: "We talk about politics or new movies, University of Arkansas Athletics, what's happening now, and about what we saw and did a half-century ago — and nothing in between. “We laugh a lot." All except one graduated from U of A, and he graduated from Murray State in Kentucky.

"I wouldn't miss it," John H. Talbot commented. "I don't know any other two hours of my life when I'm so happy to be in the company of other people."

There are hundreds of self-proclaimed ROMEO groups across the country, some with a handful of members, some with as many as 80. They meet for lunch or for breakfast, weekly or monthly. They may form spontaneously because of members' common interests or associations, or they may be associated with religious groups, adult communities or senior centers.

There are no officers, by-laws, rules or regulations, dues, or attendance records. The meeting consists of good fellowship, good food, and sharing of recent events and some old and some new stories. A different restaurant is picked on a rotating basis by the members. Everyone orders from the regular menu and pays their own separate bill. Membership is by invitation and being retired is the only requirement.

O’ yes, you can see the Romeos eating out this Tuesday at the large table in the China Rose. We like the China Rose so much; we will be back this Tuesday. Janice personally knows all her customers, what they want to eat and what they drink. She is a remarkable person, and we will miss her. This was written by the youngest member of the club, the only septuagenarian in the club. He is 79.”

New Group formed  (April 15, 2023) very quickly on Singer Island in Florida; Bill Schmitt reported: Very nice breakfast this AM.  6 members of the Corniche Romeo Club met at the Islander “hotel” for Breakfast at 9:00 AM on the island.  We had a nice round table and a good breakfast.  My feel for the meeting was that it was just like the many that I have attended.  Somewhat getting to know you, or at least know you a bit better; and random non religion and politics chat.

 The next breakfast will be 9:00 AM at the Hurricane in Juno Beach or Sarah’s kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens. If we can get a reservation.  I will let all know the address.

 Steve Morgenthal volunteered and established a membership document for all 10 current members on an Excel type document, so if all would take a look at it and let Steve know what to add or corrections.  Thanks Steve, this will be available and grow with us.   Steve sent a notification out today for you to review.

 So far, I am acting is what some clubs call an “arranger” on getting consensus of where to eat next and handling the bill.  I am only here 4 months a year Jan through end April, so would think that perhaps a 6 month person or all year member might want to take this over.

 We did each pay cash and the bit over ($10.) is in an envelope for a determination as to how to handle at the end of the season or whenever.  Thoughts were “veterans” or the social committee.

 That is all the news, except to say from my experience this is one of the most rapid full establishment of a Romeo Club getting into action.  Easy to do if no rules and no payments for anything except food.mic we were 20+ strong each week at breakfast and 40+ strong in our group as a whole.


Dominick Giordano wrote about his new club: The name of our club will be Romeo Club of Smithtown NY.  (March 3, 2022) 

Our first luncheon will be on March 3rd. So far 22 gentlemen have asked for information about the club. (they are up to 34 men now).  I’m sending out an email this weekend to see how many there will be for our inaugural lunch. 

ROMEO CLUB of Heritage at Henderson, NV (October 2022) Update) -  We had our breakfast group last Saturday get together at EMILIA’s Café where we eat every Saturday morning inside the Pass Casino located in the downtown Water District of Henderson, NV. There are {28} of our guys in the picture. See the Gallery Page for our picture. Some of our events that we will provice pictures for{

  • Our 2nd Annual Cigar’s & Whiskey Night on November 3rd

  • A Whiskey Christmas #2 Night on December 1st.

  • One of our upcoming Monday Night Football Party events.

  • One of our Coffee & Donut Gathering in the Park.

  • And Finally, Our Q1/2023 Breakfast Group Picture which should have around {40} Members in it.

An evening event called “Pizza, Whiskey & Wing’s” in this event on the 1st Thursday of each month we meet in our private community clubhouse in the 2nd floor game room & we have pizza and wings and we celebrate each month a different theme & a different alcoholic beverage it could be vodka’s or whiskey’s or tequila’s and everyone brings a bottle to share. Last month we celebrated World Whisky Day at the return of our Pizza, Whiskey & Wing’s Nights. In our upcoming event, because all of our members are vaccinated, we are calling our event ‘Fill your flask’s & Burn your Mask’s as we celebrate “National Moonshine Day”.

Ocala FL   Please add the attached photo of our ROMEO Club of Ocala to your website. In October of 2006, I founded this club with just 4 members who met daily at a supermarket deli. We are now a club of both and Men and Women Veterans. COVID forced us to meet from 3 days a week to now every Thursday from 8 to 9 am at Darrell’s Diner in Ocala. Our annual dues are 25 cents a year, payable after Death; (no pre-payment allowed). Our total membership is just over 50 people. Our primary goal is to help & direct veterans to get V.A. eligible benefits; secondly, we, as retirees, are open to helping each other live better by referring craftsmen/handymen to improve our lives. Also, by communicating local events taking place in our area. We go out to dinner on our own or with any of the other members of the club. We participate in a Club Fair at On Top of the World (a 55 plus community).  We encourage socialization over a cup of coffee each Thursday. We encourage surrounding retirement communities to join us as well. Our membership is open to all.  Feel free to contact me as needed.  Andres Rocafort  352-390-3677  Cell# 352-615-4542 or anroc30@gmail.com

Branford CT ROMEO CLUB (May 2021)we will be starting up our meetings again on Thursday May 20th at noon.  We meet every week on Thursday at noon, rotating among local restaurants.

ROMEO CLUB of Heritage at Henderson, NV (May 2021)- Our group was devastated like everyone else was, however, before the pandemic we were 20+ strong each week at breakfast and 40+ strong in our group as a whole.

Peter Patrick - Lakeland Florida (May 2021): Great Idea/Best Practice from Pete at Carillon Lakes (FL) ROMEO group:

We meet weekly at 8:45 in our community parking lot to "shoot the breeze" for 15 minutes. At 9AM our coordinator announces where we will go for breakfast. Reason for the location not disclosed?? It keeps our group together to have conversation and not head out early for the breakfast location.  Interesting concept

We choose a different location each week and focus on supporting LOCALLY OWNED restaurants. Especially since Covid.

There is no special agenda--just social conversation. Many of our members stayed home due to Covid during 2020 and are slowly coming back. Today (April 2021) we had 14 attendees. Our group was formed in 2002. There are about 3 original members in the group.

For the first time in memory, we took our wives out to dinner in March. They women loved it. We will do it annually going forward.  Love this idea!


New video on aging - how to live to 100.  Heard this from one of the clubs.  Applies to both men and women!  try this quick 2 minute video (copy link to browser): 


Bill Schmitt July 2020  The Branford ROMEO CLUB®  has starting meeting again, twice a month instead of weekly for the time being.  We also pick our venues where we can be outdoors and sit further apart for social distancing.  Below is a recent article (July 7, 2020) in the New Haven CT Register Newspaper.  

For the photograph, they removed two tables and asked us to stand together, so here we did not follow our usual spacing and were not wearing masks for this brief time.  The article follows:

North Branford. Clockwise from left are Frank Kuszpa of Guilford, Joseph Farricielli of Branford, Henry Castellon of Branford, Barry Giordano of Branford, Richard Salzano of Branford, Jim Piergrossi of Branford, Joseph Fazzino of Branford, Doug Stokely of Guilford, David Colley of Branford, Ellsworth “Mac” McGuigan of Branford and Bill Schmitt of Branford.

Photo: Peter Hvizdak / Hearst Connecticut Media

They’re back together, gathered around a long table while trying their best to maintain social distancing, these members of the ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) club.

The COVID-19 lockdown kept them apart for nearly three lonely, agonizing months. But a few weeks after the state allowed outdoor dining to resume, they reconvened.

Bill Schmitt, who handles a lot of the emails for the club, had been trying to get me to attend one of their Thursday lunches for the past three years. I held on to his kind invitation but had not gotten around to going. Then his message about their rebirth amid the pandemic motivated me to get out to one of their gatherings.

In his June 18 email to me, Schmitt wrote: “Of course we are not exempt from COVID-19, as we represent a bull’s-eye for the virus, being identified as those most vulnerable. Not only that, but the state closed down all of our restaurants. So what were we to do?”

Schmitt acknowledged it’s great having a spouse who “still remembers how to cook.” He added: “And so, lonely as we may have been, we happily put on a few pounds.” But he noted, “Asking grandchildren how to keep busy was not helpful, as they advised us to get online and go to Tik Tok, which truly convinced us we were totally out of touch.”

Schmitt sent me that email shortly before heading out to join his pals at the Dockside Seafood Restaurant and Grill in Branford for their second lunch since outdoor dining resumed. Their first meeting of the revived season two weeks earlier had been at Doody’s Totoket Inn in North Branford.

“The only problem is that being outside and social distanced, there’s a lot of ‘What was that?’ and ‘Can you speak up?’” Schmitt noted.

He encouraged me to mingle with the ROMEO members for the lunch they held last Thursday, again at Doody’s. He said they have in common “a real need to have a nice meal and social interaction with people who might be somewhat interested in what we have to say when we are close enough to hear them.”

Before I went to Doody’s I checked out the website https://romeoclub.com and learned there are ROMEO clubs all over the United States and the world. They have been around for several decades.

“There are no rules in ROMEOs,” Schmitt informed me when I sat down next to him. There were 11 club members seated at a big table under a tent.

When asked if their group, composed mostly of people from Branford, has a president, Schmitt said patiently: “We have no president because we have no rules. There are no dues, either.”

Is there an age requirement? No. At last Thursday’s lunch the youngest member was Joe Fazzino, 73. The oldest was Henry Castellon, 90, one of the originals when they got started about 10 years ago.

Must you be retired to join? “You should be,” Schmitt said. “But partially retired is fine.”

When I broached the subject of women becoming members of ROMEO, Schmitt said no female has ever asked to join. “There would be nothing against it because we have no rules. I’d be open to it.”

But when I posed the same question at the other end of the table, Castellon said, “I don’t know if that would work.”

Joe Farricielli, another original member, said: “It’s good to be with guys. We’re ‘retired old men,’ so women wouldn’t fit the name.”

He and Castellon noted this branch of the ROMEO club got started at the suggestion of wives of the early members. The women were getting together regularly for food or wine and they thought the guys should do the same.

Asked why he enjoys the club lunches, Farricielli said, “You don’t have to come; we don’t have any rules. We’re not trying to save people from being blind or deaf. We come to have food and fun with friends.”

“It’s company,” Castellon said. “It’s a place to go every Thursday. You talk to different guys.”

They noted the club members come from diverse professional backgrounds. Castellon was the third generation of his family’s Castellon Bakery in Branford, which got started in 1924. Schmitt was a chemist for Unilever. Frank Kuszpa was an engineer. David Colley was a doctor aboard a U.S. Navy submarine.

I noticed nobody was wearing a mask and asked Schmitt about this. “We wear them until we’re seated. No one in the club has had COVID; they’ve been very good about quarantining themselves. We’re all pretty confident that if anyone had an illness, they would tell us and wouldn’t be here.”

But because of the virus, the club has cut back to meeting once every two weeks instead of every week. And now they always dine outdoors.

“This COVID thing has been wicked on people,” Schmitt said. “They have no place to go. It has screwed up all the social relationships.”

Jim Piergrossi called out to me that during the lockdown “We were bored out of our minds!”

When I noted this forced isolation has made the ROMEO club more important than ever before, the guys seated around me nodded.

Schmitt said the club is intended “to regain some social activity in our lives. A lot of people lose that when they retire, when there’s no office to go to. After I retired I had very little social activity going on. You work hard and then boom! You’re yesterday’s news.”

Schmitt, now 83, said he had told himself that when he retired, “I’ll keep up with the guys at work.” He added: “Well, guess what? They’re all busy. My wife had told me, ‘They’re not really your friends; wait ’til you retire. You’ll see.’ She was so right.”

Schmitt said sometimes he gets emails or letters from female relatives of recently-retired men, asking if he knows of a ROMEO club near where they live. “They tell me: ‘He’s lost.’”

I asked Schmitt if he agrees that women are much better at developing long-lasting social relationships than are men. “Absolutely! Women are social animals from birth.”

Schmitt noted isolation has serious effects on people. He has spoken with a psychology professor in Texas who is running a program to help homebound seniors overcome depression. “She has found that loneliness and dementia are related.”

During the lunch I was told that although the members might not like to admit it, many of them joined the ROMEO club because their wives insisted on it.

Kuszpa recalled: “My wife said; ‘You’re not going to sit around the house all day, are you?’”

Schmitt added: “I’m not going to alphabetize the spice shelf. That won’t work. I’ll get in trouble.”

The jokes kept flying around the long table as the meal continued. Colley, drawing upon his experience working on a submarine, said: “How can you breathe underwater? It helps to keep your mouth shut.”

One of the other guys nearby added: “There are other times to keep your mouth shut, too!”

Schmitt told me, “We talk about all kinds of things. But when politics came up recently, we had to tone it down. We frown on that. Somebody’s going to get their feelings hurt.”

Mark Shapiro from Delran, NJ: Started planning a local club in early March, but was put on hold because of the pandemic.  Preparing to launch this effort again soon, if interested contact me: Mark Shapiro  smarlynne@verizon.net 

Bill Schmitt from the Branford Connecticut 

Our group meets for Thursday lunch every week.  Very informal group that just enjoys each other's company.  We had a very special event in late 2019; VOX Media was creating a video on loneliness and brought a film production crew from New York City to interview us and the ROMEO movement.   

The video is called:  Why Are We So Lonely? - Glad You Asked ; Click on the link below to see this video,

ROMEO's portion is during the time slots of  8:37 - 11:24 and 20:21 - 20:32 of the show    https://youtu.be/EidKI1Bdons?t=503


Robert Bornstein - Valencia Bonita Springs Florida.

Robert joined the Official ROMEO CLUB® in March 2019 and in June sent this note:

“I have just started a club in a new over 55 development. There are presently 12 residents who are in the group and I recently joined on your website. Do I now have to register the group with you and register all the members on your website also? I expect our local group will grow rapidly during the next year. Please advise what our next step(s) are to be.”

ROMEO CLUB provided some guidance and has been creating membership cards for this group almost every month. As of the end of October 2019, this club has more than tripled in size, approximately 39 members!

 R.O.M.E.O.'s of Sanibel Village    The Villages Florida

John (Bobby) Riebel is the Facilitator for group.  They meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month, at various restaurants in/around The Villages.  Photographs of the group are in the Gallery.