It's no fluke that Chef Vola's was just one of five restaurants in the country to earn the 2011 James Beard America's Classic award. Michael and Louise Esposito, along with their sons Michael Jr. and Louis, run their much-loved Atlantic City restaurant with a tenderness not often seen in the competitive restaurant world. When asked what words of advice she'd offer to young restaurateurs just starting out, Louise Esposito boiled it down to six important ingredients:
1. Have a passion for food. "Don't do it unless you really feel that. And insist on the very best ingredients, no exception."
2. Be a stickler for cleanliness and details. "The little things are what really make a difference."
3. Feed the staff. "It's important that they love the food as much as the customers do."
4. More training is better. "New servers don't even speak to customers for six or eight weeks, while they are being paid to learn."
5. Know how to do everything. "You're never at anyone's mercy that way. And when the staff knows you are able and willing to do any job, that counts for a lot. "
6. Do it with all of your heart. "You can't begrudge the nights and weekends you are working when average people are off. You aren't an average person anymore. Running your restaurant really has to be your life."