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Exploring Life & Business with Daniele Casaletta of La Bella Napoli

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniele Casaletta. 

Daniele, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
As a child I always wanted to come to California because my two sisters had moved father who lived here in California, and every year my cousins from California would come to Italy on vacation. I would always say to them that one day I would go there to live.

In 2004 I came to California for the first time and stayed for three months. I was amazed by the earning possibilities that California offered and I returned to Italy dreaming of returning.

In 2014 my second child was born and work in Italy was becoming more concerning, so my wife and I made the decision to sell everything we had and invest here in California.

The investment was very complicated for us to do by ourselves, so my sister and brother-in-law (who also lived in Italy) also invested with us.

Starting in 2014 my brother-in-law and I went back and forth between Italy and Los Angeles trying to find a solution so that we could come to America and bring our families with us.

It was difficult because we didn’t know the language and had difficulty explaining what we were looking for. Then after two years, in 2016, we met an Italian realtor real estate agent who helped us find a restaurant to buy, get the necessary licenses, and brought us to a lawyer to apply for a Visa.

In September 2017 my brother-in-law and I came to California without our families and opened the restaurant. It was very difficult to leave my wife with two small children and our dog to look after, but to have a better future we strengthened each other from afar. After a few months, they joined us.

The first year we got a lot of support from friends and family here in California but then, as you know, sometimes business partnerships don’t always have a good ending. So I went out on my own for about a year and a half leaving the restaurant to my brother-in-law, and I worked as a private personal chef until Covid-19 hit, and it was very difficult to continue due to the restrictions.

During the pandemic my sister and my brother-in-law decided to return to Italy, leaving my wife and I to have to liquidate to become 100% sole owners. It was not easy but we received support from a person who took our history and our goal to stay here and give our children a better future very seriously.

While the pandemic was in progress it was not easy: the absence of staff (many times I found myself working more than 15 hours alone), an increase in ingredients, ingredients that were not consistent because most of the ingredients are from Italy. But for me the challenge has always been to prove to myself that I can do it and be able to give my customers food I’ve cooked with Italian quality and flavor.

And I’m always thankful to my customers for the support they give every day.

Now we are just waiting for the best time to expand in California.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It wasn’t easy because we didn’t know the language very well, even with having some family members helping us, their time was limited. And we needed someone to help us with translation every time.

Another difficulty was our lack of a credit score because we were not citizens, so we were practically like newborn children.

We had difficulty at the beginning — with all the documentation to have a visa as an investor. An Italian lawyer who worked with a firm in New York gave us lots of directions and advice, but then he left. The lawyer who took over took advantage of us and asked us for more money than what had been established, but we were already halfway through the process and therefore we felt we had to accept the conditions because it would cost us a lot of extra time and money to change lawyers.

But all of these obstacles never stopped me and my wife and we became more determined to reach the finish line. Also, my faith never abandoned me and every time there was a difficulty, we also encountered a solution and someone who helped us.

Thank you, Jesus.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
I love to share the tradition of my hometown of Naples and the recipes that come from two generations of my family—my grandmother to my mother.

The purpose of my business is to let you taste real Italian food as it is, with the flavors that come from every single product added in the recipe just as it is, with quality, healthy, fresh, local ingredients, as well as products from Italy. In this way people can see the difference and get a feel for Southern Italy (Naples).

Many people return from a trip to Italy saying I’m the only one who maintains the traditional flavors of the recipes in Italy—that I don’t alter the flavor as others do with spices and other things.

People say we are authentic Italians, and I am proud that my work is recognized through their opinions.

We have many specialties that sometimes come to me from Italy, or we make weekend specials that our customers happily return to on the weekend.

Alright, so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I like to work with different people and I always have innovative ideas.

I love to collaborate a lot with foundations to help people, we often support local initiatives in South Bay for Mental health.

I would like to be able to collaborate with schools to share my passion for healthy food with teenagers and kids. They are the future. I love to teach how to make pizza.

I think people can support us by sending their family and friends, and sharing us on social media can help very much.

It would be my pleasure.

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