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Making It in America: Family Business Spelled Success for Italian Americans
Continued from page 2
by Cookie Curci
Dad was overwhelmed by the success of the business. It was just too much for him to handle by himself. After a family meeting, it was decided that Grandma and Grandpa Dinaopli would rent an apartment in San Francisco for the duration. In that way Dad and the family could avoid a daily commute by spending a few days a week at their house. Mom and dad would often say of those days, "knowing we were all going to be together at the end of the work day, warm and comfortable in grandmaís home gave us the strength to see it through those impossible years."
The overwhelming obligation to meet the monthly bills kept my grandparents bustling frantically in the kitchen. Papa, a creative cook with a glistening smile, consistently came up with a new "dinner special" every day. The say necessity is the mother of invention, and the need to keep the bills paid helped inspire many of papaís recipes. This pride and creativity that my grandparents felt in their cooking trickled down to their sons and their wives who were ready to step in to work at any station at the diner that needed attention. It didnít take long for the young serviceman to find a taste of home in grandma and grandpa's cooking style. Homemade staples were a favorite, such as sauces, stocks and soups seasoned with Italian herbs, flat parsley, and garlic. Their food was a warm reminder of what the servicemen were missing and the family they left behind.
During those long war years, everyone in the family pitched in to keep the business going. Mom recalls of that time, "learning the diner slang was half the work": a nervous pudding, (Jell-O) Adam and Eve on a raft (two eggs on toast) a pig between two blankets, (Ham on white bread), squeeze one (orange juice), and the popular sinkers and Java (donuts and coffee).
After the war, all of Dad's brothers returned safely home from over seas. Dad, tired of the daily commute, decided to open a small business "The Pronto Pup" creamery in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. His brother Frank Dinaopli remained in San Francisco to open several more successful restaurants, among them, The Tides at Bodega Bay and the Vagabond Villa in San Francisco. Brothers, Tony and Nick moved to Santa Cruz California and opened the "Merry-Go-Round restaurant, a Beach Street landmark for over 30 years, Later Nick and his wife Nancy opened the popular Di Napoliís on Soquel Ave in Santa Cruz and Sal Dinapoli was the executive chef at Castagniolaís in Santa Cruz and Plateau 7 in San Jose.
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