Lea Del Pietro Doherty is Brian Doherty’s wife, Marc Del Pietro’s sister, and Amy Del Pietro’s right hand as they work the front-of-house.
Her love for family and friends pushes her to make everyone feel welcomed in her home, which includes her restaurant too!
Although she admits that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows in the restaurant industry, she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Working with family and making others feel good about their meal and time out definitely makes up for anything that could throw her off her game.
Keep reading to learn more about Lea!
The Q & A
Q: What’s your favorite food/menu item?
A: The cauliflower steak! The romesco is everything, and the marinated cauliflower is so flavorful. Pour me a glass of Italian Blend, and I’m in heaven!
Q: What is it like to work with friends and family?
A: It is great to be around unconditional support. You know that you always have someone in your corner. You also know you must perform strongly because they [family] are counting on you. However, sometimes you want to pause work-life, but then you have the ‘Italian guilt.’
I never want to stop because it causes my family and staff more work in my absence. It took me some time to separate work and personal life, especially when I started dating my husband.
It’s stressful in the kitchen, and that stress often ends up in the lap of the person you know can handle it. The line between work and life is fine, and it can get crossed when the restaurant starts affecting your home life and time as a couple and as a mom and dad. That’s when you must stop, talk, and keep talking until you realize your love for each other and this absolutely crazy business.
Q: What is the most gratifying aspect of owning a restaurant?
A: Seeing the guests enjoy their night; seeing smiles on their faces; introducing them to different items, and turning their night into an experience. I also like seeing families that have grown up in front of your eyes. Seeing babies turning into teenagers, although it ages me, there is something so satisfying about it.
My mom always says we invite them into our home and knowing they love being here is the best compliment.
I also have to say that having our daughters be so proud of their dad, having such a tight relationship with their aunt and uncle, their cousins, and their Nani, who lights up all the restaurants she pops into. It is just incredible! They see us work hard, they see the benefits, and they know the struggle, but they always see us strong and pushing forward.
All families are doing life differently, and it’s all good, and they see that! I love that our girls are seeing this part of our life.
Q: What challenges do you face?
A: There are quite a few challenges, but we want to deal with them in our way.
I feel this is the only business where everyone feels they are an expert, and they give their ‘advice’ unsolicited, and I don’t think they realize how hurtful their comments are sometimes.
When people walk in and say, “the menu isn’t what I would do,” “the lights are too bright,” or “why did you pick this paint?” it undermines all the hard we put into making a perfect space for you to enjoy a high-quality meal.
Many guests act like a chef and want you to know how they would have plated the dish and made it larger in size. Most guests are kind and generous, and I keep them in my heart, but I hate to say the criticism stays with me.
Q: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
A: If I’m not at work, I need to be around my girls, my husband, my mom, and all my family. I have wonderful friends that have dug me out of horrible places and are my family.
First, on our list is where are we going to eat? I love to go out, whether it’s a quick dinner or a great bottle of wine with my girlfriends. I also love to travel. Seeing my girls experience new things and new places is the coolest thing.
Q: What inspires you to cook?
A: I am not the cook! Sorry to say, but I do not enjoy cooking. My girls prefer when their father cooks, and who can blame them? I can help with menus. I know what people are into, but I am not a cook. The best things I make are tomato sauce, thanks to my mom, and coffee –strong coffee.
Q: How do you cater to a variety of diners? What options do you provide for different tastes?
A: Being open to different diners is a considerable aspect that needs to be addressed every time we update or change the menu.
People’s tastes change, and a new restaurant opens every week. We must keep ourselves relevant and want to pivot to stay exciting and fresh while still staying true to our concept.
With different price points on the menu and a variety of cocktails and wines, we feel strongly that we have something for everybody. We will always accept guest suggestions, but we must not lose ourselves in the process.
Q: What was your first job?
A: When I was ten years old, I tried to apply for a job at Do-Nut Drive-In, but they never called me back! So, my first job was as a hostess at our family restaurant Del Pietro’s. I’m a shy person by nature, and knowing that I had to stand there and interact with strangers was terrifying, but I knew I had to do it.
To this day, it’s hard for me to walk around the dining room checking on everyone, but just like then, I know it has to happen.
Q: What did you think you’d be doing when you were younger? This? Something else?
A: I never saw myself in this business at all. I have always dreamed of fashion and everything in fashion.
When I was young, my brother Marc would have to babysit me. He would take me up to 711 to meet his friends and play hours of Donkey Kong. I would sit on that floor and look through every magazine they had, over and over again. I loved all the pictures and the stories that the pictures told.
Cleaver & Cocktail
At Cleaver & Cocktail, we pride ourselves on our farm-fresh, unique, and high-quality cuisine that will leave you wanting more! Our passion for quality food, family, and experiences lends itself exceedingly well to the restaurant business.
Call us today at (314) 530-9700 any time after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday to book a reservation or come on by if you’re in the neighborhood.