Balancing a career and motherhood is far from easy. 58% of Millennial moms say that being a working parent makes it harder for them to get ahead in the business world. The truth is that when women have children they have to work harder to succeed. However, one woman proving that it is possible to have it all is restaurant diva Michele DiMeo.
Mother to three children and co-founder of the MONTE Restaurant Development Group and Squisito Franchise enterprises, Michele has enjoyed an illustrious career. But let’s go back to the beginning of this story. Raised by her mom, after her surgeon dad died of a brain aneurysm when she was just a child, she has always had a strong female influence in her life. Seeing her own mother hustle to make things work and always doing the best for her was fundamental.
This firm ethos is something that she has taken into her young adult life and beyond. Having originally graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in psychology, she quickly set her sights on a role in the legal sector. At the time, she was married to her first husband, a chiropractic doctor for the Ravens. The couple were together for 12 years and had two children. Michele started a law degree in Maryland but decided to take a hiatus from the qualification so that she could be more present for her family. Never one to give up on her big life goals, she plans to return to the degree one day in the future.
It was soon after she made this decision that she landed her first job working with LA Weight Loss. Upon joining the company, it was much smaller than it is today. At the time, the business had just 79 stores. Michele worked closely in the ranks of the business, climbing all the way to the position of Regional VP by the time that she left. Over the course of her 15-year tenure, she saw the business grow to a massive 2,200 store outfit.
Her talents for business and franchising did not go unnoticed. In 2006, a top recruiter headhunted her for a brand new position with the Siegfried group of Wilmington Delaware. Over the next few years, she worked tirelessly as the head of business development and recruiting for the well-known entrepreneurial leadership organization. However, upon meeting her now-husband, Gennaro, her entire career path took a new course.
The couple married in 2010, coming together not only romantically but professionally too. Uniting their talents, the power couple set out to expand the restaurant group across the United States. To date, there are eleven restaurants, seven franchises, and one corporate shop; along with a new corporate shop preparing to open its doors in Maryland. The stores have become true “neighborhood gathering food establishments”. Since Gennaro and Michele joined forces, the two have bought and sold 20 other stores across the country.
The dynamic duo own household-name brands including Squisito Pizza and Pasta, Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen Annapolis, and Tuscan Prime Annapolis Italian Chophouse Restaurant Annapolis. Combining both franchising opportunities for budding entrepreneurs and original restaurant openings, the two have created a vast business empire. And it’s not over yet. Expert plans are in the works to open up further sites in Dubai and India.
The whirlwind success that Michele has tasted is no accident. The momtrepreneur works had to balance her professional endeavors and beloved home. She and Gennaro have a child together and family life is at the heart of everything that they do. Despite being busy as the “face and mouth” of the restaurant, she finds the time to speak to her daughter five or six times every day. It is her passion for these two areas of her life that has driven her forward and allowed her to not only reach — but surpass — her entrepreneurial dreams.
More than half of the restaurants in the United States are male-owned. It’s fair to say that this sector of business is a man’s world. However, against all odds and while maintaining a happy family, Michele has conquered this sector. Her success story, proving that with grit and determination, it is possible to have it all.