“He’s the definition of the American dream,” says Angela Laurienzo Acuña of her father, Jay Laurienzo, owner of Laurienzo’s Restaurants in Mount Airy and Hyattstown.
Jay, the son of an Italian immigrant, had a dream. Growing up in a large family with nine children, he knows a little about feeding a crowd and offering hospitality. So, it would seem natural that he would go into the restaurant business.
“Hospitality, for me, is innate. I wanted a field with excitement and energy, and restaurants were that for me,” says Jay.
Jay cut his teeth inside other restaurant chains for 20 years before following his dream to open his own place and christen it with his family name. He invited his brother, Bruce, who was working at a restaurant in New York, to come alongside. In 2006, Bruce and Jay opened their first restaurant in Mount Airy, with the interior built out by their brother, Brad. Soon after, there was a devastating fire that completely consumed the building.
“There was never a doubt. Without hesitation, we decided to reopen, and that move put us on Main Street in Mount Airy, where we are now,” says Jay. “We say we rose from the ashes like a Phoenix. And we followed that by opening what we call the little brother concept, a fast-casual restaurant in Hyattstown that has a smaller menu and, of course, our woodfired-oven pizza.”
“We’ve been through so much. We survived the downturn in the economy in 2008 while we were trying to rebuild and, at the same time, still trying to grasp what was next for our family restaurant. We kept our passion alive and our drive to move forward. We have had to adapt to the changes that have come along. Covid happened, and we had to adjust again and adapt. So, whatever our awesome community still wants from us, we will provide,” says Jay.
Angela says, “I know it has taken so much hard work for him to be where he is. Knowing that he persisted, it is inspiring to me and motivational. My brothers, Joey and Nicky, feel the same way. Through the tough times, he leaned on his dream. That’s what has gotten him through those challenges; that and the love of his family.”
“There is a lot of passion within the Laurienzo family.
We’ve passed it down to our kids, the passion of humor, laughter, working hard, enjoying good food and drink, wanting to serve and provide an experience for others,” says Jay. “My mother taught me to have candles burning and jazz music playing to create the full experience. We brought that to the Laurienzo family business, and that is what sets us apart,” says Jay. “We like to say; everyone is welcome around the table.”