There were a few times when Peter Dekaj would want to “beat” John Emmet. But the feeling never lasted long. Now, Dekaj wishes he could feel that way again.

Emmet, a native of New York, died on Dec. 23. Dekaj said the cause was heart failure.

“He was here one minute, and the next he was gone. He was very friendly. He knew how to talk to people . . . always had a smile on his face. He made this a better place,” said Dekaj, owner of Stork’s. Emmet worked as Stork’s general manager and was called the “driving force behind” its catering department and had an extensive background in restaurants in New York City before coming to South Florida in 2011.

But, to Dekaj, Emmet was more than an employee.

“He was part of my family. My kids call him ‘Uncle John.’”

To many, he was also more than a friend, and they were quick to share their grief on social media upon learning of his passing.

“I have been speechless and lost for words! Knowing I can't ever see or speak with you John! I'm super sad, I want to hold you and not let go, but your physical self is gone but your spiritual self will always remain in my heart! When I gave you this bracelet engraved [Spiritual buddies and soul mates forever] I truly meant that, I will never ever let you go! You will always remain in my heart and in my memories . . . as I'm writing this I can't believe you're gone! If I could I'd give you a big kick up the ass! All the times you were there for me! Thank you buddy! Love you friend,” wrote Zoren Ray Mckiernan.

Hundreds more comments on Facebook were made by people who said they were shocked and stunned at Emmet’s passing, and would miss his sweet, kind, and friendly attitude. Greg Giancola added “happy, loving, and kind” person, one who “shared his love for physical fitness” and was a hard worker who made Stork’s his “pride and joy.”

Giancola told SFGN that those comments on social media were exactly reflective of the friend he knew for 10 years. “He was phenomenal. He had such a huge heart. He was just a very good friend, very supportive. He was always there for me . . . there for anyone. He will be very missed.”

A viewing hosted by Emmet’s family will be held Wednesday, Jan. 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at

The McLoughlin & Mason Funeral Home, 8 109th St., Troy, New York.

Dekaj said Emmet’s friends and co-workers are organizing a memorial for sometime in mid-January, but no date has been set yet.