Etcetera Etcetera Restaurant, a Neighborhood Gem and Community Gift
Imagine getting up every day, happy to go to work! Imagine wanting to do the work that you are doing “as long as I can.”
|Etcetera Etcetera Owner Daniele Kucera|
Welcome to the world of nglccNY member Daniele Kucera, owner of etcetera etcetera. Daniele first arrived in New York from Italy in 1992 with blue jeans, shirts, and $50. He had been invited by the San Domenico Restaurant to serve as their Italian Ambassador for Food and Wine. Always the student, he left that position in 1996 to join the staff of Jean Georges Restaurant and learn French cooking. He also traveled to 30 states in order to learn the American culture. In 1999 he opened his first restaurant with $15,000 of his own savings and a $120,000 loan; the loan was paid back 18 months later.
In 2005 Daniele and two partners opened etcetera etcetera; today he is the sole owner. The restaurant, located at 352 West 44th Street in Manhattan, is known for its homemade Italian cuisine and welcoming ambiance. Each day, Daniele and his staff of 27 welcome hundreds of friends and strangers to what Anna (Hagigeorgiou) De Chevalier (Events Coordinator, Assistant to the owner and marketing at Etcetera Etcetera) refers to as “an extension of your living room.” Daniele says, “My staff are my kids. Many have been here for a decade or longer.” This attention to the staff and their long-term tenure is reflected in the experience of customers. In discussing etcetera etcetera, Anna said, “Our guests feel comfortable here. They are confident that the quality of the food and the service will be consistent.” The menu includes staples that have remained since the restaurant opened, as well as unique new creations; everything is handmade with quality ingredients.
Daniele started cooking with his mother and grandmother when he was a young boy, “talking and socializing at the same time.” As a teenager he began throwing dinner parties for his friends. In many ways, you will find the same Daniele greeting you at etcetera etcetera today. “Meeting wonderful people helped me to become who I am today,” he says. “I’m happy to go to work, to make people happy. I enjoy talking with people. A smile opens 1,000 doors.” Every day, it is as if Daniele gets to host a huge dinner party and his patrons are his guests.
Behind the scenes, the restaurant business is challenging. In addition to all the usual aspects of business (accounting, customer service, social media, website, marketing, payroll, business development, etc.) comes compliance with the myriad New York City and State agencies that regulate the food and beverage industry. This is where Anna has spent much of her time during her ten years with etcetera etcetera. Describing the restaurant as “a neighborhood gem,” Anna focuses on building relationships, many of which are in the LGBT community. “We are here to support each other, recognize the talent within, and outsource to one another. Community means helping, an open door, being part of something. And don’t forget about the small people. Everybody makes a difference.”
Etcetera Etcetera has always been an active participant in the LGBT community. While the main floor is home to the restaurant, the upstairs is a private space that can accommodate up to 100 seated or 225 for a standing reception. In addition to hosting nglccNY M3 mixers, the private space has been the site of events for Broadway Cares, Modern Exodus, Lambda Legal, SAGE, the LGBT Center, the Generations Project, The Gay Men’s Chorus, the Gay Men’s Orchestra, the Oslo Gay Men’s Chorus, and more. Describing the upstairs Anna said, “The space can be scaled back for more intimate gatherings for smaller parties. Replete with a beautiful baby grand piano, unique lighting fixtures, a skylight, and equipped with wi-fi, Pandora, and a selection of audio-visual solutions, the room is well suited for any event.” In addition to hosting events, the restaurant also caters small office events. As a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise, etcetera etcetera is a welcome home to our community, our businesses, and our allies.
Five years ago, Daniele joined forces with two others (a Ukrainian and a Latino) and established a foundation to help LGBT victims of persecution immigrate to the United States and seek asylum. Unfortunately, under the current administration they have had to suspend their efforts. “It’s a beautiful feeling, a beautiful space in your heart when you help other people,” he said. Today, Daniele continues to share that feeling and that space in his heart through the experience you get when visiting him and his family at etcetera etcetera.
You can connect with Etcetera Etcetera here:
Written by Brian Gorman, an NGLCC member and an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified professional coach. He brings five decades of change experience and study into every coaching conversation. He has served clients as large as Merck Manufacturing, as well as startups and individual leaders. Brian taps into the core of the matter, helping each person maximize their professional and personal potential. Brian works both one-on-one and with teams. In addition to his writing for nglccNY, Brian is a frequent contributor to Forbes online (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/people/briangorman/#741ca8535c20 ) and serves as Managing Editor of Change Management Review.