At this time of year, I ask myself “What is one lesson you learned (or relearned) this year?” My lesson learned and relearned is that hope is not a strategy and that we must expect the unexpected by being prepared.
With all the uncertainty surrounding COVID, 2021 was no ordinary year for Maria’s Italian Kitchen and my fellow restaurant owners. This past year I was privileged and honored to serve as the Chair of the California Restaurant Association. We participated in daily communications to state and local authorities representing all restaurants from small family owned to larger groups. Thanks to the hard-working staff and leadership, the CRA was able to help keep restaurants open by helping modify the alcohol laws allowing off premise sales and permission of sidewalk outdoor dining. We were able to survive another year of the pandemic and all the challenges it continued to bring to businesses; daily changes in safety regulations, supply chain shortages, staffing, wage inflation and daily increase in cost of goods.
I am grateful to our loyal customers who understood when we faced challenges and showed appreciation by their continued support.
I am proud and grateful to work with people who truly define hospitality. Our continued goal is for customers and communities to enjoy nostalgic Italian food, with the first ingredient being love, served with a smile and a genuine “Thank you.” This was possible because of our amazing team whom I consider members of the Maria’s Italian Kitchen family.
We are fortunate to work closely with our vendors, who were also facing challenges, and consider them partners in Maria’s Italian Kitchen. With an emphasis on mutual respect, and empathy we share to improve the customer and staff experience. I believe that kindness is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of strength. Kindness was a key part of the solution.
In our spirit to give back to our local community we made donations to some of our favorite organizations: Concern Foundation, Inclusion Matters, She Angels, Village for Vets, Piece by Piece, Girl Scouts Greater Los Angeles, Villa Esperanza, LA Food Bank, Restaurant Cares, California Parks, National Park Foundation, LACMA, Library Foundation, Downtown Woman Center, Carousel Ranch, Children’s Hospital, LA Mission, my Alma Maters, University High School, UCLA and the many local grade schools who held fundraisers at our restaurants.
I can’t believe all that we have accomplished in 2021. I am excited and motivated about the future for 2022.
We are blessed to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first Maria’s Italian Kitchen, built my parents, Maria and Donald Alfano, out of the tiny one car garage adjacent to the Village Mart Grocery Store in Brentwood Village 1972.
I wish for you and your loved ones a Happy and Healthy New Year.
And remember, Food and Love… Same Thing