Family-run restaurants may sound like something from a throwback era, but in truth, there are family ties all throughout the Charlotte food scene. Is there anything better than having a sibling to go through life with? Perhaps this: having a sibling that can share industry secrets.
Siblings often say being in the same field only makes them stronger as individuals. They can offer advice to each other and recommend each other’s restaurants. Of course, siblings are also known for being able to push each other’s buttons, and the commercial kitchen is no exception.
We sat down with some of Charlotte’s sibling restaurateurs and asked them what it’s like when family and culinary life blend. We got the scoop on the good, the bad — and the question everyone might be wondering: What about the food fights?
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Fran Scibelli and Frank Scibelli
Fran Scibelli: owner of Fran’s Filling Station
Frank Scibelli: owner of Mama Ricotta’s, Yafo Kitchen, Paco’s Tacos & Tequila, Midwood Smokehouse and Plate Perfect Catering; partner with Clark Barlowe in Heirloom; and former owner of Cantina 1511 and Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar.
Age difference: 2 years; Fran is older
Originally from: Springfield, Massachusetts
Not all families have two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, but when two siblings own successful restaurants in town, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they might each have their own ideas about what to serve.
“C’est la vie, he cuts the meat thicker than I like it,” Fran Scibelli said about her brother, Frank Scibelli. “But I will clearly say I’m a finicky eater.”
The siblings call their mother an amazing cook and their father a great host. “She loves to make pasta, and he was the supervisor of the meal,” Fran said.
Their father was a travel agent, which allowed the family to visit a variety of places. “Food was a big deal wherever we went,” Frank said.
“We’re Italian — food is culturally important,” Fran said.
Their cousins owned a restaurant, so they spent lots of time there as children and felt comfortable in the space. So with all that background, it seems only natural that the brother and sister might both gravitate toward careers that involve feeding and entertaining people.
Growing up, Fran’s favorite meal was meatloaf and Frank’s was Chicken Bianca, mushrooms, prosciutto and mozzarella. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s now on the menu at Mama Ricotta’s.
They eat at each other’s restaurants every few months, and they constantly bounce ideas off of each other. “We can talk about it endlessly,” Fran said. They can even pool resources to get better deals with contracts, Frank said.
As for food fights? “I used to drive her crazy at the breakfast table,” Frank said. “I could just look at her and get her really mad!”
Fran said no food was ever actually lobbed at each other, though. “I’m sure it would make a much better story if we said yes.”
VIA CHARLOTTE FIVE