LEOMINSTER — Louis Daigneault was 7 decades aged when he learned how to bread veal on major of tomato bins in the cozy kitchen of Il Camino Italian Cafe, and his older brother, Rick, was 12 when he and their other siblings have been trained in earning home made pasta.
“We ended up excellent at cracking eggs,” Rick Daigneault recalled past 7 days.
In 1970, the Daigneaults’ mother and father, Jack and Frances (Ciccolini), procured the Italian restaurant on 555 Central St. from Attilio and Ilda Antonioni. After a quick time period of changeover, Il Camino opened underneath the Daigneaults’ ownership on Jan. 2, 1971, and has been a city staple given that.
For the last 10 months, the restaurant has endured the worries of COVID-19, and this earlier weekend, the relatives proudly marked 50 a long time in business enterprise.
Above five decades, the Daigneaults have welcomed their loyal friends in a friendly and familiar atmosphere with longtime and focused staff members, whilst satiating shoppers with typical Italian favorites.
The crimson sauce served atop the home made spaghetti and rooster parmigiana is the recipe the Daigneaults’ nonni, Lucy Ciccolini, introduced with her from Italy and lovingly passed down to her grandchildren.
The menu characteristics many of Lucy’s unique recipes, as perfectly as the really popular rooster piccata that Chris Daigneault, an additional of Rick’s and Louis’ brothers, modified from a loved ones recipe.
Louis’ preferred menu item, not astonishingly, is the veal cutlet parmigiana, “with a side of home made huge noodles,” he said.
The meatballs and home made Italian salad dressing are also tasty.
Through the years, not significantly has transformed in Il Camino’s homey setting, a fitting concept presented it’s name, which translates to, “the fire.” The cafe commenced accepting credit score playing cards in 2007. The kitchen area and storage area had been expanded, and a number of gluten-cost-free products have been additional to the menu.
As chain dining establishments have sprouted up in the spot, consistency and loyalty have sustained Il Camino. Consumers know what they will get, they enjoy it, and they continue to keep returning.
“It’s the very same foods, my grandmother’s recipes and the similar household ambiance,” Rick stated. “People have an understanding of this is a family cafe it’s not gourmet. When we initial opened, community households seriously, actually supported us. At the close of each individual meal, little ones get a Hershey bar and then people young ones increase up and appear back and their youngsters get a Hershey bar, and it’s a favourable domino result of households coming back and coming back.
“Our personnel are faithful. Every person gets what it can take to operate a loved ones small business.”
The six Daigneault siblings, Jack, Rick, Chris, Tom, Louis and Maryellen, all worked at Il Camino as young children. Chris and Louis have labored at the cafe comprehensive time for nearly 40 several years.
Rick, Tom and Maryellen go on to aid out as “weekend warriors.” Their father, now 87, stepped back again from the complete-time procedure about two or a few years back, Rick claimed. Their mom handed away in 1982 at age 48.
In the course of lunch time past Tuesday, a handful of patrons popped in to choose up to-go orders at Il Camino, which shifted back to takeout only when the condition limited restaurant ability to 25% on Dec. 26.
“Takeout has saved us,” Rick said.
“Il Camino” usually means fire in Italian and the restaurant’s authentic is the focal level of the main dining place, which is commonly filled with hungry prospects, primarily on bustling Friday and Saturday evenings, but was obviously empty last Tuesday afternoon. Il Camino can seat 120 folks, Rick stated.
In the scaled-down dining area, recognised as the Eco-friendly Area, chairs had been stacked off to the side. Il Camino also has a lounge.
“On weekends just before COVID, we usually experienced five cooks,” Louis mentioned, “and servers running again and forth in between the kitchen and dining space with all these distinctive dishes.”
Rick said small business is down 20- to 30% more than the final yr. The restaurant’s catering company and present card gross sales have significantly experienced, and, with no dine-in, team, however, has been scaled back again.
“We went by a roller coaster since COVID strike,” Rick mentioned.
But Il Camino has persevered.
Thanks to COVID limits, the Daigneaults weren’t capable to host a golden anniversary celebration at Il Camino this weekend, but at 1 p.m. Jan. 11, Leominster mayor Dean J. Mazzarella is stopping by the cafe for a specific proclamation, and Il Camino will commemorate its milestone with 50th anniversary glassware, mugs and T-shirts.
Every 50th buyer will get their selection of an merchandise.
“Chris and I have been doing the job here eternally, but I can not feel it’s 50 decades,” Louis said. “You consider of all the people today who have been right here and all the folks who are gone, regretably.”