Lisa Andrews and Rich Dow have long dreamed of owning a food business together.
The siblings' dad worked for years at the old Italian market Alesci's near Lee Road on the east side. Family gatherings usually revolved around making food or eating it, or both. Andrews recalled ravioli-making parties with their Italian mom and grandmother, and cookie-baking parties at Christmastime.
Now, they're making the dream a reality with D'Italia. The Italian market and deli will open in late August or early September at 26285 Detroit Road, the site of the former .
In addition to a deli case featuring Italian deli meats and cheeses, there will be Italian staples like ravioli, fresh pasta, sauce, meatballs and lasagna, all made on-site from family recipes in an open kitchen, available for carry-out.
"We want people to see and smell the food being made fresh," Andrews said.
Following the Dream ... At Last
Andrews' and Dow's first jobs as teens were in restaurants. Dow was a dishwasher while Andrews waited tables. They loved the restaurant business, and talk began then of having their own place.
But life happened for both of them, and that dream was put aside. Dow went into a construction/remodeling/painting business for himself. Andrews owned a barber shop. Both live on the east side.
Then, in March, their uncle Bob DiNunzio called them. He owns a little building in Westlake, and his tenants, A&J's Grill, were . Were they interested?
Years earlier, Andrews and Dow had passed on a similar opportunity because both were too busy building their businesses.
All of a sudden, Dow's and Andrews' long-held dream had a second chance at coming true. If they dared.
"We said, enough with the coulda-woulda-shoulda," Andrews said. "Let's go for it!"
Andrews closed the barber shop. Dow shut down his business. In May, they got to work.
Making the Dream a Reality
The business plan, they say, is simple. Bring the classic Italian market to a place where there's not much like it.
"We want to emulate the old-school places like DiStefani's, Alesci's, Ferrara's, where you go in and smell all these good smells," Andrews said.
There's a market for it, Dow said.
"People appreciate good food now more than ever," he said.
Dow has put a lot of sweat equity into the business. With him being able to do carpentry, painting and some construction work, Andrews estimates they've saved about $20,000 over having to hire someone.
Family is at the core of the business. Their brother, Robert Dow, came up with the name. D'Italia, they said, means "of Italy." It's simple and to the point.
Andrews said the sauces, raviolis, meatballs and other prepared foods will be traditional dishes made from their family recipes. They and the daily specials will be an easy alternative to take-out, she said.
"I think people are getting sick of chains and fast food," she said. "Our fresh and frozen foods will give them a chance to have real, fresh-made meals with their families even if they have busy days."
There will be sweet treats, Andrews said, made from family recipes. The market will carry items like olive oils and canned Italian tomatoes. Catering, party trays of pasta and lasagna, and deli party platters will also be available.
With only about 1,400 square feet, there's no room for much seating right now, but Dow and Andrews are considering adding patio space in the future.
Andrews said she's hoping to get their mom out from Las Vegas, where her parents now live, before the opening to help with recipe testing and quality control.
"I love the idea of us all being together, in on this," she said. "They can be here six months, winter in Las Vegas ... Why not?"