Duo Continues Family’s Restaurant Tradition

When David Dashi was trying to choose a name for his first Italian restaurant, he sought out the advice of his father, who suggested he use something that had to do with the word “friend.” Well, welcome to Amici’s, where Dashi and his wife Valentina treat everybody who walks in the door like they’re somebody famous.

Growing up in the Bronx, NY, David got a first-hand look at just how tough running a restaurant can be by watching his parents. Nevertheless, he knew it was a business he wanted to get into from an early age.

It’s Not a Job, It’s a Passion

“In this kind of business, it’s very hard,” Dashi said. “But if you love it … nobody can take it away from you. I love the business. I have a passion for it. That’s the key. If I didn’t like this business, believe me, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Dashi actually opened his first restaurant – also called Amici’s – in New York in 1987. As he and his family spent time vacationing in Florida, he was introduced to Brevard County and it wasn’t long before he started to think about putting down some roots. “I fell in love with the area here because it’s more family-oriented, and business-wise it was great because you have a lot of New Yorkers, people from up north who live in this area,” he added. “It was just a great neighborhood.”

After building a house here in 2001, he signed a lease in 2004 to open up a second Amici’s restaurant in the Boardwalk Plaza in Suntree. The plaza was completed and the restaurant opened in 2007. He and Valentina have been happily serving customers ever since while his brother runs the restaurant in New York.

Plus they have a chef who cooks not just by recipe, but by feel. Amici’s offers diners traditional Italian food featuring everything from salads and pizza to chicken, veal and seafood, not to mention an excellent wine list.

No Guts, No Glory

In January of 2011, the Dashis expanded their business to include a banquet room and an authentic Italian bakery. In doing so, they also bumped up the number of employees from 12 to 38. “It was a huge expansion,” David said. “When the economy is tilting down and somebody is expanding, people might think, ‘what the hell is this guy doing?’ But I had to make a decision like that, to bring something more to the community than what I had.”

While David handles the cooking duties and has a hand in all aspects of the day-to-day operation (including the final say on all business matters), Valentina helps supervise the dining room and often visits each table to make sure the customers are satisfied with their meal. It’s that kind of friendly, family atmosphere that the Dashis have created that keeps customers coming back for more. Well, that and the excellent food, of course.

A Time For Business and for Family

Having learned the business from his parents, as well as going to school to become a chef, David not only has an attention for detail, but the knowledge to be able to pull it off so that both families and singles can have an enjoyable experience.

If there is one challenge to running such a hands-on business, it’s finding quality time to spend with their two sons. While the boys have spent time in the restaurant washing dishes or cleaning off tables (what else would you expect in a family-run business?), David and Valentina also try to carve out time to see their sons play baseball.

Holidays are big, of course. But the biggest day comes on Sunday when the restaurant doesn’t open until 4 p.m.

Being able to balance a family with the demands of running a restaurant full-time can be a burnout for some, but not when you truly love what you do. With the Dashis, that is definitely the case. “Every day I get up, I enjoy what I do,” David said.