MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The search is over for the founder of Novecento restaurants after he went missing in India’s Ganges River while trying to save a drowning friend.
“He’s a hero,” said Novecento customer Anna Wozniacki. “Very sad story, I feel a lot of pain and I feel with the family.”
Hector Rolotti, 47, had been missing since March 17th. He was with his wife and a group of more than 30 friends visiting India for a 10 day spiritual retreat.
On Monday, the group was at the banks of the Ganges River, 26 kilometers east of the city of Rishikesh, when one of the people in the group called out for help.
Rolotti jumped into the river along with five other men to try to save their drowning friend. Five of the men made it back to land safely; however, Rolotti was taken in further by the current and had been lost for the past six days.
Rolotti was found in the river at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning (12:00 p.m. in India) by a group of locals who alerted the authorities and a search team.
“I think it’s heroic and very inspirational and hopefully his journey in the afterlife is taking him somewhere else pleasant,” said Novecento customer Jeffrey Springer.
The Novecento group released a statement that reads in part: “Hector was a tireless entrepreneur and family man, always concerned about his children, wife and parents… Hector’s example as a person, husband, father and friend – as well as his smile – will live on forever.”
Rolotti’s remains are expected to be cremated in India in the presence of a few relatives and close friends. They will then be brought to Miami; La Cumbre in Córdoba, Argentina; and Bariloche, Argentina, where his family and a large number of friends reside.
Rolotti opened his first restaurant in New York in 1991, Novecento New York Soho, with the objective of bringing New Yorkers the authentic taste of Argentine cuisine. In 1996, he established another restaurant in the Cañitas, Buenos Aires.
The company quickly grew with restaurant openings in Miami, Uruguay and Argentina.
In 2007, Rolotti and his partners formed the Novecento Group Holding LLC. Under this new name, the Group inaugurated Novecento Coral Gables in 2008 and Novecento Key Biscayne in 2009.