The Olivieri family immigrated to the United States in 1950, where they first settled in California and opened a small family business in the same year. Originally from the Italian coastal town of Sestri Levante, the Olivieri family like all Italian natives knew the art of making good tasting Pizzas. It was therefore not surprising that the first business that they set up when they arrived in California, was a small Pizza restaurant called Len’s Den that also sold candied apples and fresh fare. Initially, Inez, who is Aldo’s wife used to run the restaurant with the help of both of their sons Mauro and Valter while Aldo would be out fishing most of the time.
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In a few years their business operations had grown in a way that enabled them to expand their operations by opening a new business venture at Portola Avenue; a Pancake House. With the expansion of their business, Aldo would occasionally help with the restaurants by finding time on weekends to make fresh pasta and gnocchi, which is still the favorite recipe of Aldo’s restaurant to this day, while at the same time keeping his schedule of fishing.
In a couple of years, the Portola avenue business lease expired, and it was time to move again to a new location. This time around the family choice of location was at Santa Cruz Harbor, which showed promising business opportunities, where they opened a Bait and Tackle shop. Sure enough, and soon after the family opened shop the Bait and Tackle shop in 1962, they managed to expand their business and open the Aldo’s Harbor House Restaurant a year later. Over the following years, the family concentrated on this business while, all the time expanding it until 1977 when it became a fully-fledged restaurant that still serves breakfast and lunch to this day.
In the meantime, Mauro had grown up, married Nori, and moved out to San Francisco, where he had gone to work before moving back to Santa Cruz in 1980, where he settled and continued to work in the family business. Valter, on the other hand, chose to remain and manage the family business Aldo Restaurant, until 2003 when he finally retired. After moving back to Santa Cruz, Mauro picked up the mantle of running the family business from Valter and, he is now the manager of Aldo’s Restaurant and business.
I caught up with him at the harbor when doing this interview where he told me that Aldo’s restaurant in Sequel is now a major business operation that mainly sells wholesale, bread, and pastry all over Santa Cruz town. Besides bread and pastry, Aldo’s restaurant also makes ravioli, pesto sauce, mushroom sauce, and marinara, which are favorites to high school kids that often line up to buy from Aldo’s.
When I ask about his personal life outside Aldo’s, Mauro says that he likes playing soccer and spending time with his four children and his wife Nori, whom she says is the greatest decision of his life. Mauro also tells me that he is grooming his son John to take up, and run the family business once he retires. Once so often, therefore, together with the restaurant’s manager Alfredo Servin, John gets involved in the daily operations of the business which has now been transformed to cater to different patrons with its varied menu that includes fresh salmon, calamari, and eggs benedict among others.
Since it started featuring in the Food Network show where Mauro displays his culinary expertise, Aldo’s restaurant has become even popular than ever. As I conclude my interview and shake his hand to leave Mauro tells me “Familia salute Vida” which means to enjoy family and life.
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