The 35-year-old Stillwater resident died April 18 from complications after surgery. According to an obituary in the Pioneer Press, Bougie was married and the father of three children under the age of three.
Staff and restaurant patrons are adding condolences to a picture of "Chef Gary" on the restaurant's Facebook page. "Gary was truly an inspiration. He was living his dream with his beautiful wife and children. His passion and kindness were contagious," one post reads. An employee wrote, "He will be so so missed! What a wonderful man and one heck of a person to work for!!! I'm so sad.." Accompanying the picture of Bougie is a quote from him that reads, "Being right doesn't get you much, but being happy gets you everything."
Bougie operated the Slyce Coal Fired Pizza in a Chicago suburb when the cuisine was discovered by the Kowalski family, who operate the Twin Cities upscale grocery store chain that bears their name. Founder Jim Kowalski backed Bougie in opening Pizzeria Pezzo, which began serving customers in December.
"The Kowalski-Bougie partnership has been doubly heartbreaking," the Business Journal wrote, noting that the pizzeria was Jim Kowalski's final business venture. He died in an airplane accident while on a fishing trip in Canada in September.
In January, the Heavy Table website gave a positive review to the coal-fired pizzeria, writing that "Word on the street is that Bougie plans to open several more Pizzeria Pezzo locations in Minnesota in the next few years. Given the popularity of this first foray, we expect he’ll have little problem achieving his vision."
Funeral services are scheduled later this week.