Owner of Enzo’s Discusses Being a Female Restaurant Owner


Courtesy of Belmont Business Improvement District

Di Rende took over ownership of Enzo’s three years ago after the passing of her husband. (Courtesy of the Belmont Business Improvement District)

The red and gold storefront of Enzo’s Restaurant has graced Arthur Avenue for the last 15 years. Behind the classy but cozy atmosphere and fresh Italian cuisine is a tight-knit family headed by Maria Di Rende, the owner of Enzo’s.

Enzo’s used to be a small cafe before being purchased by Enzo Di Rende, Maria’s husband. For 12 years, Enzo ran the business and attended to most of the daily operations. However, three years ago, Enzo passed away from cancer, leaving the business to Maria. 

Di Rende said after her husband passed away, no one knew what was going to happen to the restaurant. She said that her family and staff stuck it out and kept Enzo’s afloat out of respect for her husband’s vision for the place.

“We all understand the vision he was trying to build,” she said. “I feel we’ve gotten stronger and built a sense of support for each other.”

Now, the restaurant has expanded from about 50 seats to 200, but it still maintains the small, intimate atmosphere it was initially known for, said Isabella Di Rende, GSB ’21 and Maria’s oldest daughter. 

Di Rende said she never saw herself as a restaurant owner. Her family owned a business on Arthur Avenue when she was younger, but when she and her husband opened Enzo’s, she said that he ran it for the most part.

She said when he got sick; she started getting more involved until she took it over after he passed away.

“(On a) day by day basis, I’m pretty much living how he lived in the restaurant business,” she said. “It’s not something I thought I would be doing.”

Di Rende said being a female business owner has its challenges, especially because people might not take her as seriously as they might take a man. She said that she watched both her father and husband run businesses, so she has picked up and brought their habits into her role as a business owner.

“I need to stay strong and make decisions, and show that when you make a decision you stay strong and stick with it,” she said. “In time I saw the change of like, ‘Oh, she does know and she is doing well for the business.’”

Yet, Isabella said everyone at the restaurant sees her mother as the boss and respects her authority. She said the main struggle her mother faces is working to provide for her family while still trying to get over the loss of her husband.

“It is hard to lose someone you love, and I think that is what affects my mom and family and me the most,” said Isabella. 

Di Rende has five daughters and said the life lesson her family has learned is to deal with what comes your way and make the best you can out of it. She emphasized that you have to stay strong and do what you have to do.

“As a woman and a mom especially, I want to show my kids that when you put your heart and head and mind into it, you have to be confident in what you want and stick through that,” she said.