Having been in love with the restaurant business from a very young age, 33-year-old David Minicucci turned his vision into a reality with the creations of both L’Unità and Maléna, two deliciously successful restaurants in downtown Toronto. With two very different themes but one common goal, check out how David is becoming a forward thinker in the culinary industry in today’s YEDaily…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell
Director of Operations and Owner of L’Unità and Maléna restaurants.
I oversee the day-to-day operations at both restaurants L’Unità and Maléna. This includes the development of the wine and bar programs, working with our chefs in keeping our kitchens and menus organized, general accounting and bookkeeping, human resources, all private dining and special events, and I work as a Manager a few nights a week also.
Why did you start working at your company?
I have always been in love with the restaurant business. My work experience has mostly only ever been in restaurants. I have been fortunate enough to work at some of the top restaurants in Toronto, having been inspired and taught by some of the best chefs, sommeliers and managers over a 12-year period.
It was the people whom I worked with in the business that propelled me to create my own vision with my restaurants: opening L’Unità in 2007, and Maléna in 2010.
What was the inspiration for this career route?
I always enjoyed the idea of hospitality; having people over and entertaining was exciting for me. I loved to learn how to cook as a young kid and often spent time in the kitchen with my mother. As I got older, learning about wine and spirits became intriguing. The idea of having a career that revolved around food, wine and entertaining was a no brainer!
Each day brings about something new; a new food idea, a new wine to taste; a new cocktail to create; a new staff member to train, teach and mentor. These are all desirable moments for me. My job is rewarding because I get to be creative, work with wonderful, talented people each day and get to see smiles and joy brought to the faces of my guests because of what we created.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Every day is different. It’s not like your typical office job. Every day presents new challenges and rewards.
My day is pretty much divided into 2 parts:
Firstly, spending time during the day preparing with staff and suppliers, making sure we are organized and set to go come 5:30pm.
Secondly, getting set to be on stage, to direct ‘the show’ and to ultimately create a memorable evening for all of our guests.
The most challenging part?
There are not enough hours in the day! Days move along very quickly for us. Before you know it, the first guest arrives and you wish you had one more hour to get a few more things done! Dealing with mechanical, staffing and guest relation issues at a moment’s notice are usually the most challenging.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I definitely see myself continuing to grow and be progressive in the restaurant business. I aspire to create new and unique restaurant concepts and possibly branch outside of Toronto as well. I would like to be perceived as forward thinking, a leader in the restaurant game and a mentor to others hoping to build their own hospitality dream.
What does success look like to you?
Being able to sleep in at least two-days a week! Knowing that you’ve got everything under control brings a sense of accomplishment and calmness to my life!
Also, having the respect from the people that work for you and knowing that our guests truly enjoy patronizing our restaurants because of the experience we put together each night.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Developing the original concept of L’Unità at a young age and having it be an instant success in 2007. After that, it would be seeing our vision for Maléna come together in 2010. Building both ventures showed me that anything is possible with hard work, passion and a drive for success.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Hard work is paramount. You have to lead by example; show that you can be a leader, but still let others around you showcase their individual talents. In essence, learn to surround yourself with the best possible people, build a team or family environment and find ways to get the most out of others.
Owning your own business requires you to be well rounded, confident and well-researched. Being organized, spending time in being prepared and being focused are also key.
My personal motto is to go ‘slow and low’. Think about all the details, the pros and cons of each situation and take your time in getting there!
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Both Maléna and L’Unità support the Hospital for Sick Children and Villa Charities. I believe it is important to take care of the most vulnerable in society: the elderly and the youth. With Villa Charities in particular, the Italian community here in Toronto is very close to my heart.
What to you is notable?
Being honest, sincere and having patience with all of your relations and dealings.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Blackberry. I don’t even know what an android is.