SUFFERN, N.Y. -- Marcello Russodivito has lined up concerts in the past to celebrate big events. The Suffern chef invites the community to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his restaurant with his biggest event yet on Sunday.
Sunday’s concert at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern begins at 4:45 p.m. and features two parts. It begins with Jazz and Classical Italian Songs. At 6 p.m., pop singer Giada Valenti’s “From Venice With Love” concert will feature love songs from the 1960s until the present. PBS Television host Jim Masters and Ornella Fado of the Brindiamo television show will be the Masters of Ceremonies.
Tickets begin at $30 and can be purchased on www.marcellosgroup.com . Restaurant seating will also be available for concert goers prior to and after the show.
“I’ve been doing concerts since 2011 when we celebrated our 25th anniversary,’’ Russodivito said. “We had been doing Valentine’s concerts, but it got too difficult with the weather. It was always stressful with the snow. Last year we did a June concert but there were a lot of conflicts with graduations and confirmations. We thought this will be a great time to do it and we have a lot of diversity in our music.”
The first half of the concert will soprano’s Anna Veleva and Sophia Sarrubbo, tenor Teo Ricciardella, the Peter Furlan Jazz Band and song writer Claudio Mignogna. The second part features Valenti, a native of Venice who moved to New York in 2004 and sings for audiences worldwide. Russodivito said the concert will last nearly 2.5 hours and will include a break.
“It will go so fast because there isn’t just one person singing,’’ he said. “There are so many diverse songs and so many different voices. I wanted to give chances to lots of people to showcase their talent. I wanted to give as many people as I could the chance to be part of a nice community event.”
Russodivito takes care of all of the concert details, including choosing the performers and working with the sound and stage crews. The concert reflects the same hard work and dedication he has poured into his restaurant since 1986, when he stumbled upon a vacant bookstore and set about transforming the space to one of the region’s most highly-decorated restaurants.
“It’s been challenging,’’ Russodivito said. “We’ve had to struggle through a lot of different economies. The last few years have been the toughest. I don’t know many people that have been able to make it 30 years in the restaurant business.”
Russodivito lived in Riccia in Italy as a youngster and got started in the restaurant business after the sudden death of his father when he was just 13 years old. He studied for three years a the Hotel Institute of Montecatini Terme and worked at restaurants in Switzerland, Germany, France, England and Bermuda.
He and his wife settled in Nanuet, but Russodivito found trouble holding a job. “Every place I worked I was fired,’’ he said. “I had a lot of experience and was taking over the restaurants, telling other people what to do. They didn’t like that. I finally figured out I couldn’t work for anybody else.”
He said he stumbled upon the restaurant space when he “made the mistake of taking Route 202” into Suffern. He stopped to purchase a newspaper and read help wanted ads. He parked in front of the location where his business now stands. “I went inside the shop and talked with the landlord,’’ Russodivito said. “I signed the lease that day.”
Russodivito renovated the restaurant and worked 14 to 17 hour days. He said the initial challenge was the stock market crash in 1987, but he hung on through the tough early times and managed to build name recognition for his brand within three years.
Over the years he bought and sold other restaurants, re-opened the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn in New Jersey in 1998, published cookbooks and built his brand to include television shows, important events (he participated in an event with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1994 at Gracie Mansion) and even tours of Italy. His home base, however, has always been his award-winning Suffern restaurant.
“We’ve been successful because of the things I do to make it successful,’’ he said. “When the economy struggled, I made the food even better. That’s what people want. They don’t want to see a reduction in quality when things get hard. They want quality to improve. I’ve always been able to keep my people employed. At 58, I don’t want to have to fire anybody.”
Russodivito said he has never considered moving his restaurant, but has considered devoting more time to consulting and stepping away from the restaurant. “It’s getting harder and harder to find the right people to continue my legacy,’’ he said. “I do it for passion and love more than the money. But you have to work hard. I’ve never had to close on restaurant. It’s a tough business. I see restaurants closing all the time.”
For more information, click here to visit MarcellosGroup.com. More information on the concert is also included on the attached PDF.See Attachment