The Barstool Fund - La Collina
Up next: La Collina (Bala Cynwyd, PA)
Located just off the Schuylkill Expressway in Belmont Hills, La Collina boasts spectacular hilltop views. The bar offers a unique atmosphere with live entertainment and dancing on weekends. This gem is known as one of the most romantic restaurants on the Main Line.
My name is Jade and I am writing on behalf of my husband, Dario and father in-law, Enzo Valent. They have a family-run Italian restaurant called La Collina, outside of your new home of Philadelphia and has been in business for 35 years.
One of the best things about La Collina is the customers. The majority of the customers have been coming to La Collina their whole lives. When people ask where my husband works, I often hear them say “oh the restaurant on the hill” and then share a memory of celebrating a special occasion like an engagement, birthday, or anniversary dinner. Even in death, their customers often request La Collina to host their funeral luncheons, which is totally weird to say but it’s true.
People say that stepping into La Collina is like stepping back in time. Not much has changed since it opened, including the staff. A quarter of the staff have been there for at least 25 years. A few retired and one succumbed to covid-19 in the Spring. The restaurant is run like family, where loyalty is the most important. Therefore, they have a very low turnover.
My father in law was born in a little village an hour west of Venice, Italy. At age 14, his parents sent him to work in Milan in a bread factory at 14 years old. He would wake up at 3:30 am everyday to make bread. He is the hardest worker I know. At 75 years old, he should be retired and relaxing but his passion is this restaurant (which we call his other son). We worry what will happen to him when he stops working.
I work in healthcare, and during the quarantine, my job furloughed me so the group I work for could make more money. In a complete opposite and selfless act, Dario and his dad continued to pay their staff from their own pockets to keep their employees from going broke--even though the restaurant was forced to close for a few months. Enzo still went to work every morning during this time to check all the refrigerators, the freezers, and the heat just to make sure they were still working. He couldn’t just sit at home. My father in law even waited to apply for the Payroll Protection Loan that was being dispersed to allow other restaurants and businesses that were suffering more to get it first.
It has been so difficult to see how hard these men have worked over the last 9 months to keep this business afloat and their employees paid. I know Dario’s parents are using their retirement money to keep the restaurant running since the beginning of the summer. For them, letting the business close is not an option.
Currently in PA, restaurants are only allowed to do take out and outdoor seating. Unfortunately, La Collina does not have the space to allow for outdoor seating beyond one to two tables at their entrance since the restaurant is built on the side of a cliff. December is usually their busiest month. Now is when their servers make their holiday money and the staff gets their bonuses from a year hard worked. Even with the loss of income, Dario and his Dad decided not to cut his staff over the next couple of weeks. They are loyal to their employees as they are to them. They don’t believe it’s right to have people lose their jobs, especially at this time of year. If La Collina could be considered for this grant, it would keep this 35-year-old family run business and all their staff afloat. It would also keep an old man’s dream alive.
Thank you for considering,