HARTSDALE, N.Y. -- Villaggio Italiano Restaurant , a long-time family-run eatery now has another family in charge.
Robyn and Danny Santiago, who met while working at the Hartsdale restaurant -- she as a bartender and waitress and he as a busboy who eventually moved up the line to waiter and cook -- took over the neighborhood fixture in Sept. 2015 after the original owners decided to sell.
For the Santiagos who fell in love on the job, it was a dream come true.
The restaurant, in business for 38 years, still retains much of the same staff. According to Danny who is there every day -- Robyn has her own public relations firm -- it was important to keep the same people who have worked at the restaurant and who, inevitably, have become family.
There are, however, some slight changes. While folks can expect the same homespun Italian food, there is now live jazz every Tuesday, Happy Hour seven days a week, and a lot of social media marketing and celebrations on holidays like Cinco De Mayo where, this past year, the entire restaurant sold out. And, yes, there's an app for that.
Still, it's that old-fashioned flavor that makes Villaggio's special.
"Customers continue to say that the energy here is something they've rarely seen before," said Robyn.
The secret to success, stressed Danny, is relationships. "Because Villaggio's has been in the same location with the same staff for 38 years, the families that come here now have their children, who are adults with their own families," he said. "We value that repeat clientele and don't take it for granted."
Villagio's is at 389 N Central Ave., (914) 949-3427, www.villaggiosrestaurant.com/ .