BAiA -- modern Sicilian restaurant in Old Oakland

A new business model for a community oriented restaurant with an emphasis on giving back


The Mission

I started my affair with food as a child growing up eating at the large weekly family gatherings in my Italian immigrant aunts' home in Lynn, Massachusetts, surrounded by and loving cousins, uncles and friends.  Memories of these Sunday afternoons have lured me halfway around the world and back, having spent the last eighteen years cooking in New York, Tokyo and now the Bay Area.  I have been blessed to work with some well known and great chefs, and I consider my current place in life a gift from all of those people who have nurtured and guided me along my path.

My first experience in the culinary world, however, was far from lofty by any means: it was a soup kitchen.  I began cooking publicly--though not yet professionally--as part of the Community Service Club that I helped to found at my high school back in Malden, Massachusetts.  Once a week we would go to the rectory hall of a local church and prepare meals for the community.  What struck me immediately was that the people--often entire families--coming through the doors and into our humble "restaurant" were from every possible walk of life, but they all had one thing in common: they needed our help.  Some more than others, of course.  It was the impact of the realization that any one of us could at some point in our lives find ourselves facing similar circumstances that stuck with me.  Since that time it has been my belief that we all have an obligation to use our unique talents to affect the lives of others in a positive and meaningful way, to help in any and every way possible. 

Two years ago I started the process of developing a business plan in order to achieve my dream of owning my own restaurant, and thought a lot about how I could affect the lives of those in need of assistance in my own community.  My hope is to do so by offering classes in the restaurant educating people on the powerful decisions that we make on a daily basis with our food purchases--decisions which have a great and lasting impact upon our communities, our economy and our environment.  The classes will target youths and families in the lower income brackets, teaching them to prepare simple, healthful and economical meals based upon the abundance of local seasonal ingredients available to us all.  Beyond that I have a grand vision to open my doors on the holidays, when most restaurants would be either closed or looking to capitalize on the potential profits of the day, to those who would normally be unable to afford the luxury of a restaurant meal, allowing them to enjoy the full experience, and receive nourishment on a much deeper level by way of a simple caring act.

The Impact

The action of a single individual has the power to change the world.  Multiplied out, the potential is staggering.  My goal is to positively affect the lives of all of the people that I am able to reach through my business and its  social missions.  My dream is to inspire others to do the same, looking for new ways to apply their many talents to affect change in their local communities and beyond.

What We Need & What You Get

We are close to making this a reality, and a site has been selected, a lease signed and funding is nearly complete.  What we still need is an additional $25,000 to move forwards, start construction and open our doors to our neighbors here in Oakland.  In return for helping us to achieve this goal you will get the benefit and enjoyment of any one of our great perks depending upon your contribution level.  Beyond that, and much more important, is that you will know that your act of giving is a true catalyst for change.

Other Ways You Can Help

The current economy has hit us all rather hard, and even giving a small amount may be beyond many of our means, but there is still a way to help if a financial contribution is not possible: tell everyone you know!  The more people are made aware of BAiA's vision and social mission, the sooner the vision can be made real and we can start to make real measurable change in the lives of others.  Please use all of your resources--Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter--to get the word out far and wide!

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