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Success Story: Donatella Arpaia: Attorney Turned Restaurateur

Donatellaportrait_1 For those familiar with the Manhattan restaurant scene, the names Dona (offering Southern European cuisine at 208 East 52nd Street) and davidburke & donatella (trendy eatery at 133 East 61st Street) will undoubtedly ring a bell. Patrons of these two eateries are probably less familiar with the background of its founder - Donatella Arpaia.

A recent Newsday article recounts how Donatella initially steered clear of her family's restaurant business and instead embarked on a career as a corporate lawyer. But after practicing law for seven months, Donatella filled in one day for her brother at one of their father's establishments. The lure of the restaurant business proved too strong, and in 2000 she left law. Within five years, Donatella had opened a string of hot New York City restaurants, including davidburke & donatella, and in March 2006, Dona (her nickname), and was crowned by Zagat’s "The Hostest with the Mostest." Donatella's sauces and oils now also grace the shelves at Whole Foods Markets.

Regarding the motivation for her career change, Donatella explains, "A restaurant is a way of life. It's a culture. A restaurant becomes your family. ... You love it. ... We are so passionate about food, and you have to be to survive in this industry."

Read more about Donatella on her website.

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