WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (March 25, 2019) – March 29 is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, designed to draw attention to the value that small, locally-owned businesses bring to the community. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 28 million small businesses exist in the U.S., employing more than 56 million people.
Beyond the economic benefits, locally owned businesses add value that can’t easily be measured: they create vibrancy and originality that’s often missing from today’s typical shopping experience. Downtown West Palm Beach offers a wide spectrum of these businesses, from a family-owned Irish pub, a pizza joint that attracts patrons from 50 miles away, and a multi-generational jewelry shop, among others.
Here are some of the stories behind the success:
It was a mother’s soulful home cooking that led to the 2003 opening of Leila, located at 120 S. Dixie Hwy. This popular Syrian-Lebanese restaurant is run by Akram Alex Awad and his wife Mireille, who serves as head chef. While Akram runs the front of the house, Mireille is busy in the kitchen recreating classic family recipes like hummus, tabouleh, falafel, kibbeh nayyeh, muhammara, burak and yulanji.
Lynora’s, a beloved Italian restaurant at 207 Clematis St., got its start when owners Raffaele and Maria Abbenante emigrated from the tiny Italian island of Ponza to South Florida in 1974 and began selling pizza by the slice in Lake Worth. Raffaele’s front-of-house charm and Maria’s traditional family recipes were the winning combination that turned this mom-and-pop pizza place into three successful, full-service restaurants, including the one on Clematis St., and two more scheduled to open on the horizon. Now managed by her son Angelo, Maria is still in the kitchen each week preparing her prized family recipes.
Greg Nash and his wife, MaryAnn, have worked side-by-side at Nash Jewelry Company at 120 S. Olive Ave. for nearly 30 years, after taking over the family business that was started 30 years earlier in 1955. The origin of the family jewelry business goes back 120 years to Greg’s Ukrainian great grandparents. His great-grandfather, a jewelry store owner, was killed in the Bolshevik War and his great-grandmother then escaped to Israel with her two sons and all the diamonds she could sew into the lining of her clothes. Many years later, Greg’s grandfather, Robert Nachshen, came to America to open his own jewelry company – under his Americanized last name Nash. The jewelry business continued to pass through the generations, with Greg’s father, Murray, ultimately opening the location in the Guaranty building in 1955.
Maurice Costigan, the owner of O’Shea’s Irish Pub at 531 Clematis St., is originally from Cork, Ireland, and came to America in 1990. Some years later, he found love at an Irish bar in Boca and decided to open his own home-away-from-home with wife Rachel. O’Shea’s has now been a staple of the Downtown scene for 20 years, providing Irish-American fare, a festive bar with live music, and large-scale community events, like its famous (or infamous) St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Partners in life, love and a popular pizza business, Jennifer Morales and Phoebe Reckseit are the owners behind Pizza Girls at 114 S. Clematis St. in West Palm Beach and now Palm Beach Gardens. With a motivation “to bring girl power to a traditional male business,” this mom-and-mom business started making pizza in Downtown West Palm Beach back in 1996 and the rest, as they say, is “herstory.”
Serving authentic Sicilian dishes, Ristorante Santucci at 610 Clematis St. is a family-run restaurant that includes owner/chef Emilio and wife Anna-Maria Santucci, son Eugenio (head chef) and daughter Selena (restaurant manager).The patriarch of the food-loving Santucci family grew up in Sicily and developed a taste for cuisine from every Italian region before settling in Palm Beach County in 2014, where he’s been baking fresh bread, making pasta from scratch, and creating delicious dishes and desserts with his family ever since.
For more information about the Downtown West Palm Beach District, visit downtownwpb.com.
About the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority
The DDA is an independent taxing district with a mission to promote and enhance a safe, vibrant Downtown for residents, businesses and visitors through the strategic development of economic, social and cultural opportunities. For more information about Downtown West Palm Beach and its incentive programs, contact the DDA at (561) 833-8873 or visit downtownwpb.com.