How Lidia Bastianich manages her family enterprise

By Patricia Olsen

Like a number of top chefs, Lidia Bastianich has her hand in several ventures. Tavola Productions, her entertainment company, produces her cookbooks and children’s books; her TV program, Lidia’s Kitchen; and her occasional TV specials.

She is also chef/owner of four New York City restaurants -- Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto, as well as Lidia’s Pittsburgh and Lidia’s Kansas City, along with her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali. With her son, Joe Bastianich, and partners Mario Batali and Oscar Farinetti, she opened Eataly, an Italian food and wine marketplace, in two New York City locations as well as in Chicago and São Paulo; more Eataly locations are scheduled to open in 2017.

There is also a line of pastas and sauces, and a winery in Italy with three locations.

In a recent conversation published in the March/April 2017 issue of Family Business Magazine, Bastianich explained how she manages this complex family venture. An excerpt follows.

Read the full article here (subscription required).

Family Business: How are your restaurants organized? Is there one holding company?

Lidia Bastianich: We don’t have a holding company. We have several partnerships, but each restaurant is viable and responsible on its own. We hold each manager responsible for their efficiency in running it, and for profits and so on. We have our own management company in partnership with Mario Batali, B&B Hospitality Group (for Batali & Bastianich), which manages the accounts, HR and benefits. About 50 employees keep the individual satellite businesses running smoothly. For example, we have new managers meet with HR and get all the rules and regulations managers need to adhere to, as well as advice on starting out.

FB: How do you make decisions about partnering with your children?

LB: I really don’t decide. They bring projects to me that they’re interested in, and we talk. We’re together in some businesses, and there are other partners in different businesses. Becco, in Manhattan, was the first restaurant my son and I partnered in. He and Mario Batali have other restaurants. Joe also has our wineries in Italy. My daughter is my partner in Tavola Productions. She also runs Lidia’s Kansas City and Lidia’s Pittsburgh, which I have a small part in.

I wouldn’t have grown as much had my children not come in with their new energies. I love working with my children as adults. You have your children, you teach them to walk and talk, you send them off to school and hopefully they’re on their own as human beings. My son was a trader on Wall Street, and my daughter has a Ph.D. in Renaissance art history from Oxford. It was important to me that they get an education, and I told them to get an American job. Instead, they slowly came back to the business they had been around since childhood. I took it as a great honor that they saw what I started and wanted to continue. They have different strengths, and it was up to me to incorporate them and let them learn what I had done thus far. Then I let them grow, and they have, each on their own.


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