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COPING WITH COVID-19: Dominic’s restaurant keeps dreams and legacy alive despite pandemic

FAMILY SUCCESS: (from front to back) Dominic’s Ristorante Italiano owner matriarch Angela Cesario with daughters Lisa Cisneros, Gina Cesario,  Francesca Cesario, and son Michael Cesario.

 

By Laurie Hanson • June 30, 2020

Keeping the American Dream alive during the nightmarish pandemic is what Dominic’s Ristorante Italiano faced for the first time since opening 29 years ago in Cypress.

The family operated restaurant got its start when owner matriarch Angela Cesario, born in Sicily, brought authentic recipes to a pizza place she had purchased with her life’s savings from a friend named Dominic in 1991.

Things were going very well, then the pandemic hit. Undaunted, and with the help of her three daughters and son, they came up with novel ways to stay afloat during COVID-19.

When the family found out they had to close their dining room in early March, they brainstormed ideas on how to stay productive and continue to keep employees and customers safe, according to eldest daughter and General Manager Lisa Cisneros.

“We came up with curbside pick-up, family meal deals, pizza kits, take & bake catering trays, wine, beer and cocktails for takeout as well as more third-party delivery services for those who needed contact-less options such as DoorDash, GrubHub and PostMates,” she said. They communicated all this and more by sending out nearly 2,000 emails to customers, and by using Facebook and Instagram.

“We believe [through] our long time standing in the community, a lot of local support, and with the many ideas that we brought the table to try and accommodate our community’s needs, that we have been able to stay fairly busy,” said Cisneros.

Now fully opened, Dominic’s utilizes dining room social distancing and created a QR code accessible on smart phones at each table to eliminate handheld menus. All 35 employees wear face masks and gloves, and every hour there’s continual sanitizing of counters, doorknobs, and common areas.

“We have a professional cleaning crew that comes in to deep clean and sanitize the kitchen areas weekly,” added Cisneros. “Hand sanitizer stations have been added near the entree and exits to the restaurant.”

As far as how business is going, Cisneros said their numbers are not 100 percent the same as last year, but sales are still more than what they expected. “We have felt very blessed and appreciated during this time,” she said. “The community has been so gracious and generous, and we have passed that on to our staff as well.”

Cisneros explained they were able to employ most of their staff during the pandemic, but with less hours. The few employees that were not working were all brought back in early May, and now all employees have been offered their jobs back.

“Because the business itself became different, some of our staff found themselves doing positions they didn’t do before,” she said. “And honestly, it was great to see everyone work together as a team to accommodate the new ‘norm.’” To do takeout only, their dining room became an extension of their kitchen, creating an assembly-line. Takeout business went from 25 percent before COVID-19 to doing 100 percent of the business for a while, according to Cisneros.

“We are so proud of our staff and how they all were so willing to make the necessary changes to help our guests feel safe and taken care of,” she said. “Within the first week, we had it down!  What an adventure!”

Looking now and towards the future, the family proudly carries on their Italian tradition of hard work and dedication while building upon their legacy in Cypress for decades to come. It is the hope of owner, Angela Cesario, and her children, Lisa Cisneros, Gina Cesario, Francesca Cesario, and Michael Cesario, that everyone feels safe and comfortable to come to Dominic’s Ristorante Italiano. For more information, please visit online at dominicscypress.com.

Dominic’s Ristorante Italiano
9921 Walker Street
Cypress, CA 90630
Located in the Cypress Plaza Center just north of Ball on Walker

Tel: 714.821.8080
[email protected]

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