Business Profile: Keeping it in the Family: Azzara’s Italian Restaurant
December 27, 2021 | Kayla Anderson
On a weekday night in the shoulder season, people are trickling into the popular IV Italian restaurant to get hearty, traditional meals crafted with love.
Azzara’s has been around since 1956, when Sam Azzara used his mother Vita’s recipes to open a restaurant in Stanton, California. He relocated to Incline Village in 1978 and opened a location here, quickly becoming an integral part of the community.
Meanwhile, Sam’s youngest daughter Andrea graduated from IHS and went to school at University of Nevada, Las Vegas on the millennial scholarship. She loved to cook and graduated with a degree in culinary arts management, moving back to Northern Nevada. In 2007, Andrea and her husband Cord Gitchell took over Azzara’s.
A lot has changed over the years, but Azzara’s has come out stronger than ever. Sam passed away in 2018 and the Gitchells are currently raising three sons: 15-year-old Tate, 12-year-old Dane, and 9-year-old Mac. Especially during the pandemic, it helped to have them around.
“Tate is old enough to work now, it’s a huge gamechanger. He helps me unload food, he busses tables; he’s just as capable as any of my adult staff,” Andrea says. She also credits the continued success of Azzara’s to their ability to adapt quickly, implementing carry out, online ordering, and delivery services when they reopened.
Azzara’s treats their staff well, allowing them to keep 100 percent of their employees when things started opening back up. For instance, just look at head chef Valentina Medina and Zoelia Medina who’ve been with the restaurant for more than 40 years.
When asked whether her sons have expressed interest in taking over Azzara’s, Andrea replies, “Hopefully one of them will take it over. They’ve all talked about it…one will say, ‘When I run this place, I’m going to be the bartender and you’re going to do dishes or something like that,’ but that’s just them being boys,” she smiles. However, Andrea is adamant about encouraging her children to follow their hearts and pursue their own interests.
Only time will tell…Andrea and Cord were young when they took over the business and still have a lot of years left. And although it’s hard running Azzara’s without her dad around, fortunately being involved in the restaurant helps keep his memory alive.
“People loved to see him, running around bussing tables, and we were always telling him to slow down,” Andrea says.