Family members stay together to make Bridgeville business succeed
It's not often that birthdays are celebrated in the kitchen of a coffee shop and cafe.
Even if it's just for a few minutes.
That's what happened last week at LaBella Bean Coffee Shop and Cafe in Bridgeville. One of the co-owners and family members, Leslie Bonaccorsi, was celebrating her 53rd birthday.
Her sisters and fellow employees sang “Happy Birthday” to her. They had some cake in the small shop along Washington Avenue.
Soon afterward, however, they all got back to work.
It is things like this that keep LaBella Bean running smoothly, said co-owner Jeff Massetti, who started the business in 2001 with his brother, Gary. Family members, including sisters Leslie and Maria Wandrisco of Collier, work there on a daily basis.
The entire family always meets for an Italian dinner on Sundays every week at a family member's home, Massetti said.
LaBella truly is a small, family business.
How did a small business run by family members survive more than a decade?
“I can tell you this,” said Massetti, 55, who lives in Collier, “(my sisters) sometimes go at it verbally for a while. They see each other all the time. I think we expect that. But everything is settled by the end of the day. Our family has always been like that.
“There are no grudges in this family.”
Where LaBella is now located previously was a consignment shop. Jeff and his brother, Gary, started the business for their mother, Donna, who died in October 2004.
“We wanted to do something for her. I really believe it has something to do with the fact that we can look at and say, ‘This is ours,'” Jeff said.
The Massettis grew up in Scott and attended Chartiers Valley High School.
Most of them, including Bonaccorsi, have chosen to stay in the area.
“I think the fact that we are a close-knit Italian family only helps the business. Sure, we have disagreements. We always will. But we have learned to look past them and see what we can do with the future,” said Bonaccorsi, of Collier.
LaBella has coffee, tea, soup, and sandwiches. Most of the recipes for the soups and sandwiches are homemade, Massetti said. LaBella Bean has the advantage of location. It is next to Armstrong Express, an Italian/American restaurant, and near Burgh's Pizza and Wings.
This triangle of restaurants within 50 feet of each other in Bridgeville only helps all involved, Massetti said. For instance, Massetti's daughter, Gabrielle, works as a waitress at Burgh's Pizza and Wings.
“And if we ever need bread or lettuce, they know we can go to them or vice versa,” he said.
The family atmosphere extends not only to the ownership, but the customers as well, Massetti said.
“A lot of the people that come here, they do so on a daily basis. Old friends come here. It's a place to hang out. A place to have fun, but at the same time a place to have good food,” he said.
Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.