Interview with Michele DiMeo

Momtrepreneur and Restaurateur Michele DiMeo of Squisito® Franchise Enterprises, INC and the MONTE Restaurant Development Group – Changing the Landscape of The Restaurant Business

Interview with Michele DiMeo of Squisito® Franchise Enterprises, INC and the MONTE Restaurant Development Group

Restaurant diva and momtrepreneur, Michele DiMeo, is the face behind and co-founder of the MONTE Restaurant Development Group and Squisito Franchise enterprises managing Tuscan Prime Italian Chophouse and Dolce Bar, Squisito Pizza & Pasta, and Squisito® Too .

Ahead of becoming a restaurateur, she graduated from Michigan State University with a psychology degree. Having set her sights on an illustrious legal career, she then began attending law school at home in Maryland. However, she took a hiatus from her studies to raise her children. One day, she plans to return to this sector and complete her degree.

Her early career started with LA Weight Loss, a move that lasted for 15 years. When she joined the business, the company had 79 stores.

However, by the end of her tenure when she had reached the position of Regional VP, the business had around 2,200 stores. In 2006, her next career step took her to the Siegfried group of Wilmington Delaware where she worked as the head of business development and recruiting.

By a twist of fate, she then met her now-husband, Gennaro. The two married in 2010, uniting both romantically and professionally. His family hail from Naples, Italy, where they grow their own produce and cook hearty, homely fare. Based on this tradition, the dynamic duo set about Monte Restaurant Dev Group and Squisito Franchise. Each restaurant serves up traditional family recipes from the homeland.

Since starting the business, the couple have bought and sold more than 20 restaurants. Despite her industry success, DiMeo takes a hands-on approach to the business. Instead of working behind the scenes on the company administration, she is the “mouth and face” of the company.

She is happiest when greeting guests at the restaurants and ensuring that every eatery maintains its stellar five-star rating. Fostering a deep sense of passion and love for her businesses, she has named every gray hair on her after one of them.

The future looks bright for DiMeo’s rapidly-growing restaurant empire. The business leader has revealed that the group plans to open restaurants in India and Dubai. Combining a full-service menu boasting traditional pizza and pasta with a drizzle of local culture, these latest openings are set to take the countries by storm.

DiMeo is a self-proclaimed family woman and values them above all else in her life. She has three children; two with her first husband who she shared 12 years of her life with and one with Gennaro, her partner in life and business.

Can you share with us your background and your career?

Michele DiMeo has been the Principal-Franchise Operations and President of Squisito® Franchise Enterprises, INC since Squisito’s franchise inception in May 2010. Since July 2008, she has been Chief Operations Officer/ Director of stores for the MONTE Restaurant Development Group headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland.

Since January 2009, she has owned and operated four Squisito® NY Pizza and Pasta restaurants in Maryland along with full-service restaurant concepts in Florida and Maryland. Michele DiMeo is one of the founding members of the National Pizza Council operated in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association.

From February 2006 to April 2008, she was the National Strategic Sourcing Operations Manager for The Siegfried Group located in Wilmington, Delaware where she focused on recruiting efforts as well as business development.

From 1996 to January 2006, she was Regional Vice President/Director for LA Weight Loss Centers in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. As a company, the group now owns and operates 14 locations in Tennessee, MD, VA, DC and DE. Expanding 1 restaurant at a time full service and fine dining and coming to a neighborhood near you.

Can you share with our readers how you started your company and the mission behind it?  

Gennaro my husband and partner in life and business started our company over 30 + years ago coming to this country at the young age of 15. He brought recipes from his hometown, Naples Italy opening his first pizza shop at the age of 19.

I joined him early in 2007 to expand the brands/ company and bring the business structure and franchise knowledge to the group, streamlining operations. We have since grown our company together side by side for the past 15 years.

Our mission has and will always be authentic recipes, fresh ingredients, made to order dishes, support of the community, and most importantly the focus on the guest experience and amazing customer service.

Michele joined the MONTE Restaurant Development Group to streamline and assist Gennaro with corporate and Franchise expansion of his fast-casual brand, Squisito® NY Style Pizza and Pasta.

With this powerful union of conceptual restaurant experience – Gennaro DiMeo, with Michele DiMeo’s franchise and executive operations/leadership experience, Squisito® Franchise Enterprises began.

The mission statement behind Squisito and Tuscan Prime:

Squisito –

Mission:“Our mission: to consistently serve perfectly priced, high quality, authentic Italian dishes, with superior service in an upscale, yet casual and inviting atmosphere. Eat Well Eat Italian”

Tuscan Prime –

Mission: “To consistently serve award winning modern Italian cuisine, paired with a masterful crafted wine list, and craft cocktails, delivering superior service in an upscale and inviting atmosphere”

Our Vision: “ To consistently provide the experience and presentation of recipes and flavors from Italy to contemporary American Culture. The preparation of our signature dishes is crafted with passion, and innovation to blend old and new Italian traditions. To provide total satisfaction to our guests from excellent customer service, ambiance, great food, and affordable pricing without sacrificing flavor, creativity and impeccable taste.” 

Interview with Michele DiMeo of Squisito® Franchise Enterprises, INC and the MONTE Restaurant Development Group

What makes your company stand out from other ones in your company’s space?

What really sets us apart is the community alignment, the fresh authentic recipes straight from Naples, the drive to stay on top of what is next for the industry, and staying true to our brands. The kids love us, the families love us and we are “the neighborhood gathering place.”

As a company, we discuss daily the importance of the guest experience and we live this daily with every location and every employee. Guests can go anywhere for great food, but they can’t get a great experience everywhere.

One of our very good guests and now friends said it best- “I eat atmosphere- the food is extra” that has become my focus at every location. You can’t say it any better!

If you could go back and talk to your younger self what would you tell them and why?  

“Definitely to stay in your space and stay focused”, the strong survive and the weak will be eliminated in such an environment as we saw in 2020 with covid. So many brands were a memory in 2021, the restaurant industry was definitely hit the hardest as it affects so many areas of the industry.

Do not fight change- change is healthy to stay on top of your game!

  • Self-worth and Confidence- work/life balance- work hard play harder
  • Perseverance – get up and never give up. If you want something find a way to get it-
  • Never lose site of the guest (customer depending on the industry). Start small think big with your vision and mission and stay true to that focus whether 3 stores 79 stores or 1500 stores. When you lose sight of your beginnings the end is near. Stay true to your brand- what made it successful.
  • Passion and ownership – make your staff want your job and love and respect who they work for and with.
  • Never lose sight of the “WHY”

I am a hard head and a true skeptic (the old theory “trust, but verify”- “believe it when you see it”) and need to learn and experience for myself so not listening and/or not experiencing first hand I am not sure it would have been enough to sway a discussion or footpath in business.

I am a true believer to run not walking, taking risks, finding inner happiness which yields business happiness, and organizing your own success and chaos.

You are 100% in control of your future so Make it happen!

  1. Organized “Chaos”
  2. Structure, structure, structure- create what works for you- procedures
  3. Accountability and reports- Numbers are the end result of behavior
  4. Opportunity in weakness and learn from mistakes- write your book on what not to do again and promote and strengthen success and build upon- Build strengths
  5. Culture- People People People- Relationships are everything- People work for People (Community)

My quote in life is “if you keep doing what you have always done you will always get the same result you have always gotten!” I am sure if you ask my husband and partner Gennaro he could say we could write the book on what not to do as we have made many mistakes throughout the years, fallen, and got right back up and continue to try our best every day not to repeat the same mistakes.

As a momtrepreneur how do you balance your career and being a mom? 

I learned from the Best and continue to push myself every day to be better, stronger, and more successful from the day before in everything I do both personally and professionally.

I instilled the same work ethic in my older daughters since they were little girls and in turn, they too have grown to become overachievers in their space and just as successful as their Mama if not more.

The little one (my youngest daughter-soon to be 4 years old) will absolutely follow in her older sister and Mama’s footsteps. She is starting young for sure! She says all of the time when I grow up I want to be just like Mommy!

Every successful professional/ Momtrepreneur has hard times to overcome or they would not be the successful leaders/ Mommies that they are today. Hard times create tough skin and teach valuable lessons in success and within their children.  I work hard, but my kids come first in everything I do. Balance is the key recipe to a happy life and prioritizing what’s important.

My proudest title in life is “Mom/ Mama”. I am the mother of three amazing daughters Alanna 24, MoriElle, 19, and Aviva 4 years old.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now?

We are always working on exciting projects, if not I would not be the “Restaurant Diva”

New exciting restaurant locations, PR for the Diva Brand, and growing our retail line of products.

Follow us on social media for exciting news and updates-

Where do you see yourself and your career in this new year and in the future?  

Successful and continuing to grow. Expanding the Restaurant Diva brand and finally launching my reality TV show. More to come here.

How can our readers connect with you on social media/websites?

Monterdg.com

Squisitopizzaandpasta.com

Squisitofranchise.com

Instagram – Restaurant_diva_

Tuscanprime.com

And coming soon….. The Restaurant Diva (restaurantdiva.com)

Previous

Festivals of the US Virgin Islands You Cannot Miss

Next

Bishme Cromartie at LA Fashion Week 2023

Check Also