LEOMINSTER — Louis Daigneault was 7 a long time outdated when he figured out how to bread veal on prime of tomato containers in the cozy kitchen of Il Camino Italian Restaurant, and his older brother, Rick, was 12 when he and their other siblings had been qualified in producing homemade pasta.
“We ended up terrific at cracking eggs,” Rick Daigneault recalled final 7 days.
In 1970, the Daigneaults’ mom and dad, Jack and Frances (Ciccolini), ordered the Italian restaurant on 555 Central St. from Attilio and Ilda Antonioni. After a quick interval of transition, Il Camino opened beneath the Daigneaults’ ownership on Jan. 2, 1971, and has been a metropolis staple because.
For the final 10 months, the restaurant has endured the issues of COVID-19, and this previous weekend, the household proudly marked 50 years in company.
Above five a long time, the Daigneaults have welcomed their faithful guests in a helpful and acquainted atmosphere with longtime and committed employees, even though satiating customers with vintage Italian favorites.
The pink sauce served atop the handmade spaghetti and chicken parmigiana is the recipe the Daigneaults’ nonni, Lucy Ciccolini, brought with her from Italy and lovingly handed down to her grandchildren.
The menu characteristics many of Lucy’s primary recipes, as nicely as the quite popular rooster piccata that Chris Daigneault, an additional of Rick’s and Louis’ brothers, modified from a family members recipe.
Louis’ beloved menu merchandise, not astonishingly, is the veal cutlet parmigiana, “with a aspect of selfmade wide noodles,” he reported.
The meatballs and do-it-yourself Italian salad dressing are also mouth watering.
By way of the a long time, not considerably has adjusted in Il Camino’s homey placing, a fitting topic specified it’s name, which interprets to, “the fireplace.” The restaurant began accepting credit rating cards in 2007. The kitchen and storage space were being expanded, and several gluten-totally free merchandise have been extra to the menu.
As chain dining places have sprouted up in the location, consistency and loyalty have sustained Il Camino. Buyers know what they will get, they really like it, and they hold returning.
“It’s the similar food stuff, my grandmother’s recipes and the exact family environment,” Rick reported. “People have an understanding of this is a family members restaurant it’s not gourmand. When we 1st opened, nearby family members actually, genuinely supported us. At the stop of each meal, children get a Hershey bar and then people children increase up and arrive back again and their children get a Hershey bar, and it is a good domino impact of family members coming back and coming back.
“Our staff members are faithful. Most people receives what it takes to run a spouse and children organization.”
The 6 Daigneault siblings, Jack, Rick, Chris, Tom, Louis and Maryellen, all labored at Il Camino as youngsters. Chris and Louis have worked at the cafe full time for almost 40 yrs.
Rick, Tom and Maryellen continue on to enable out as “weekend warriors.” Their dad, now 87, stepped back from the full-time procedure about two or three several years back, Rick claimed. Their mom handed away in 1982 at age 48.
For the duration of lunch time final Tuesday, a handful of patrons popped in to decide on up to-go orders at Il Camino, which shifted back to takeout only when the condition restricted cafe ability to 25% on Dec. 26.
“Takeout has saved us,” Rick mentioned.
“Il Camino” suggests fire in Italian and the restaurant’s first is the focal stage of the key dining area, which is generally loaded with hungry customers, especially on bustling Friday and Saturday evenings, but was obviously vacant previous Tuesday afternoon. Il Camino can seat 120 people, Rick said.
In the scaled-down dining location, acknowledged as the Inexperienced Area, chairs were stacked off to the side. Il Camino also has a lounge.
“On weekends in advance of COVID, we generally had five cooks,” Louis stated, “and servers running again and forth between the kitchen and dining home with all these unique dishes.”
Rick mentioned small business is down 20- to 30% over the past 12 months. The restaurant’s catering company and gift card gross sales have specifically experienced, and, without dine-in, workers, sad to say, has been scaled back again.
“We went as a result of a roller coaster because COVID strike,” Rick explained.
But Il Camino has persevered.
Because of to COVID limits, the Daigneaults weren’t able to host a golden anniversary celebration at Il Camino this weekend, but at 1 p.m. Jan. 11, Leominster mayor Dean J. Mazzarella is halting by the restaurant for a unique proclamation, and Il Camino will commemorate its milestone with 50th anniversary glassware, mugs and T-shirts.
Each individual 50th customer will get their alternative of an product.
“Chris and I have been doing the job below eternally, but I can’t believe that it’s 50 several years,” Louis mentioned. “You think of all the men and women who have been listed here and all the men and women who are long gone, unfortunately.”