Outside of Mario and Angela’s Italian Cucina there is a sign that reads: “Nothing fancy, just good food.” According to Doris Grippo, that sign is perfectly reflective of what Mario and Angela’s is all about.
“You definitely can’t say it better than that,” Doris chuckled. “This isn’t a fancy place. It’s homey and delicious.”
Doris Grippo is the owner of Mario and Angela’s; she is Mario’s wife and Angela’s mother. Doris has spent the past 20 years working in the restaurant business with Mario. The Grippos got their start together in New Jersey, and since then they’ve worked their way down to Missouri, West Virginia, Florida, and back to Missouri. Their restaurant in Cape Girardeau has been established for four years.
Mario Grippo was born in Avellino, Italy, and immigrated to New Jersey when he was only 16 years old. He quickly landed his first job at a pizzeria. Mario worked there every day after school until one o’clock in the morning, sharpening his skills in the kitchen and learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business. His hard work paid off when he opened his very first Mario’s restaurant at 19; he couldn’t speak English yet, but that didn’t stop him from being a teenage business owner.
Doris recalls that Mario’s restaurant was a local favorite of her mother and father–Mario’s pizza was the cheapest in town. One day Doris went in with her parents to eat and met Mario for the first time. She was 15 and he was 19, and three years later the couple was married.
Ever since she met Mario the restaurant business has been at the forefront of Doris’ life. Doris got her first waitressing job at fifteen, and once she married Mario she partnered with him in business endeavors. Doris has had other careers as well, both as a cosmetologist and a pharmacy technician, but for the past twenty years she’s worked strictly in a restaurant setting. Although getting to smell the food cooking all day is a great perk (especially the Italian soup or sub, Doris’ favorite items on the menu), Doris’ favorite part about being a restaurant owner is seeing her regulars come in every day and leave with smiling faces and full bellies.
“My daughter, Angie, works in lunch. And everybody who comes in—She’s high-fiving them and hugging them when they walk through the door,” said Doris. “You don’t get that in a regular restaurant.”
Doris stays busy all through the week and doesn’t get much free time, but she sets aside enough time to see her family on Sundays. All of the Grippos get together every Sunday night for a pasta dinner that Doris cooks herself. Afterward, they stick around to play the family favorite card game: Acey Deucey. On the rare occasion Doris has some time to herself during the day, she’ll take her grandchildren to see a movie at Marcus Theaters or to play at Discovery Playhouse.
Mario recently opened up another location in Marble Hill, Missouri. Although Doris enjoys settling into her restaurants, Mario is relentless entrepreneur who is always looking to share his Italian delicacies with a new corner of the U.S. When Mario inevitably moves onto another project, Doris will no doubt be at his side in the kitchen, just like she has been since they were teenagers.
Disclaimer: This blog post and other Brick-and-Mortar Bulletins on this blog are not an advertisements, nor are they an expression of favoritism on the City of Cape Girardeau’s behalf. The purpose of this blog is to spotlight our local business owners/managers and thank them for providing the innovation that shapes the identity of the city and allows our community to thrive.
Seth Watkins is from Troy, Illinois and attends Southeast Missouri State University. He majors in public relations and minors in writing. Although his dream job would be drumming in a rock band, Seth hopes to build a career for himself in either the corporate or healthcare sector of PR. To learn more about him, visit his LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sethwatkinspr/.