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Meet Denise Stavros of Primavera Ristorante

Today we’d like to introduce you to Denise Stavros.

Denise, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Primavera Ristorante was established in 1989 by my parents, Cristos and Jeannette Stavros. My father had a dream of opening an upscale restaurant in Coronado; he already owned and operated several other businesses on the island for about 15 years. He felt strongly that there was a need in the community for a contemporary, classy, uptown-feeling Italian restaurant similar to the ones he frequently dined at with my mother in New York City and San Francisco. At the time (1988), the only upscale restaurants to dine at were located in the Hotel Del Coronado and the Le Meridien Hotel. At the age of 65 years old, Cristos’ dream became a reality when he transformed his Secret Harbor, a cocktail lounge frequented by locals and servicemen, into Primavera Ristorante.

I was born and raised in Point Loma and grew up in a family where building businesses was the name of the game. I was the only daughter of four children, and I got my start at the age of 15 when my father/mentor introduced me to the family businesses, which included Victory Liquor and Chris’ Liquor & Deli, which was established in 1956; it was known as the first San Francisco-type delicatessen in San Diego County. I was taught the accounting side of the business, first, learning how to balance the daily books and recording those totals to a general ledger (there were no computers in those days; everything was done manually) reconciling the business checking account and having a clear understanding of the direct expenses involved when owning/operating a business.

The customer service side of the business came naturally after observing my parents over the years graciously greeting each customer with a smile and providing service with kind, genuine care and attention that guests would never forget. In 1992, my father purchased the former Andersen’s Bakery in Coronado a few doors down from Primavera Ristorante. At the time, I had been working at HomeFed Bank for ten years, and then the opportunity arose for me to become the General Manager of Primavera Pastry Cafe. We changed the name, completely remodeled the bakery and turned it into a charming quaint bistro with a full-service bakery café. It was quite the challenge starting a new business from the ground up.

I can recall the endless hours of researching different bakery concepts, developing the menu, costing out recipes, interviewing and hiring the best people in the field, designing the interior décor and raising a family at the same time. Besides the homemade sweet baked goods, we offered a complete breakfast and lunch menu featuring omelets, gourmet sandwiches and assorted salads. I took a break from the family business for a few years to raise my four amazing sons, who are now accomplished businessmen whom I am very proud of.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I have dealt with a few bumps in the road along my journey. Every day I encounter new challenges, some bigger than others; however, with a positive attitude and an open mind, you’re able to address the issues at hand and find the right solution. I’m stronger because of the challenges I have encountered and wiser for what I learned from the mistakes I’ve made. My motto is, “As long as you’ve got passion, faith and are willing to work hard, you can do anything in this life.” I am unstoppable…

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Primavera Ristorante – what should we know?
Tell us about the business. What do you specialize in and what are you know for?
Primavera Ristorante is a family-owned and operated business, specializing in the food of Northern Italy; it’s known as one of San Diego’s finest Italian restaurants and is located in the heart of Coronado. Primavera has been successfully operating for almost 29 years. We believe our success is based not only on our fine cuisine but on the excellence in customer service provided by our team. We have team members who have been working with us for more than 20 years; they’re like family and we’re very proud of each and every one of them. We embrace all of our guests as if they are coming to our own home for a great meal and a good time; it’s all about the experience, leaving a lasting impression to make our guests want to come back again and again.

What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the wonderful reputation Primavera has created, and the relationships we’ve established with loyal guests who not only live in Coronado but also the out-of-town guests who continue to dine with us every time they’re in town. It’s very rewarding and satisfying to see families representing two and three generations return to dine. Primavera is a true gem… I am also very appreciative and proud of the many awards we have received over the years for best Italian cuisine and exceptional customer service from Zagat, Trip Advisor, OpenTable, Coronado Lifestyle Magazine and others.

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