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Take Five: The roulette wheel of a new business

December 14, 2011|By Gene Pepper

I am always surprised at the number of people who harbor the idea of owning a restaurant.

Take any conversation, preferably over dinner, and someone will muse, “Someday, I’m going to open a restaurant.” The eyes of the others at the table will glaze over and their minds will wander as they themselves in a chef’s apron, greeting people, cooking over the grill, or pouring the fine wine.

Right here on Foothill Boulevard, in La Cañada, sandwiched between Panda Express and Georgee’s Pizza, is Anthony’s Fine Food and Wine.

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Anthony LaCasella is the managing partner and we can proudly say he’s a local. He was raised in La Crescenta, attended schools there and later graduated from Cal Poly Pomona.

He brings enthusiasm, spirit, hope and boundless energy to this fledging business. I was reminded how precious entrepreneurs are to our city — and to our country.

Opening a food and wine enterprise is far afield from Anthony’s major at college, botany. But he always liked cooking with his mom, and later thought about some kind of business with food. He enjoyed cooking with friends, and one night, while experimenting with several dishes, this sparked The Conversation — “Let’s Open a Restaurant.”

Thus, the birth of Anthony’s. Neither he nor his partners had the appropriate background, but this was considered a plus. The venture began with a clean slate. They built everything from the ground up.

“The result,” said Anthony, “is to offer a boutique experience to our customers.”

The partners researched several other smaller communities in and around Los Angeles, but finally decided on La Cañada. The physical set-up, the location on a wide boulevard and the city demographics were factors.

A complete makeover was not needed, as there was an existing kitchen in the vacated premises. The owner of the property has been helpful working with Anthony’s team, as has been the city of La Cañada Flintridge in handling the permits.

“The staff at City Hall couldn’t have been more helpful to us as we went through all the necessary steps to open up,” said Anthony. In fact, he thinks perhaps they even saved a few months on their timetable.

“My partners and I worked diligently for months to set up our business model and then our business plan. Much to our surprise, something we hadn’t planned on turned out to be a bonus,” says Anthony.

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