Growing up in South Philadelphia was akin to living in Italy without the gelato. At least that was what it was like for Lynn Rinaldi decades ago. Everyone became like family; fathers and brothers protected mothers and sisters.
Lynn, the only girl among her four siblings even has a twin brother. And watch out for her they did. So, what’s a girl to do? She had to find ways to explore and discover on her own. And she did.
Lynn, a rebel at heart taught herself to drive, certainly didn’t want to depend on the men in her family, and then at 18 at a job interview when asked if she could bartend, the word “Sure” fell from her lips like honey (more about honey later). She quickly ran out and bought “Mr. Boston’s Bartenders’ Guide”. “Once”, she mused “I went to visit my college friend and on Monday morning there was a student government meeting my very hung over friend was supposed to lead; too much partying, so I, who didn’t even go to college took over and facilitated. Lots of fun and lots of compliments!”
Working in restaurants and eventually going to culinary school was a fit for this kinesthetic gal who needed to be hands on with her life and work. Here is where the rebel can transform into a community builder. I talk about it in “Don’t Bring It to Work”, how you can flip the energy from the old pattern into one that has more clout, more worth.
There was a street in South Philadelphia known as “the avenue”; the oldest Italian-American business district in the country. Passyunk Avenue had fallen into decline. Shops were shuttered. Lynn’s talent to vision kicked in. She has a keen eye that shows in her food preparation; just the right amount of sauce here, a single leaf of basil sitting regally, crowning the gnocchi there.
She proudly led her dad to a decrepit furniture store. He gasped. She sighed. And before her father knew what hit him he was helping his only daughter cement the basement. And when the renovations were finished; voila, “Paradiso” a Zagat rated restaurant was baptized.
Back to the honey. Always inventive, Lynne now has an organic garden covering the roof overlooking the city. And even more unique are the hives 120,000 bees call home. Fresh honey, what could be better?
Lynn’s advice to staying GUTSY: work so hard that by the time the worry thoughts about “what am I doing” creep in you’re too tired to think.
And that was how an urban renaissance began; where the grand dame of a street could once again be the place to meet. Lynn smiles and shrugs when she is called the visionary, the community builder. She’s just a girl having fun!
There will be GUTSY evening celebration on October 6 with Lynn’s fabulous appetizers and wine to launch my book “GUTSY: How Women Leaders Make Change”. So, as they say in the old country, come, enjoy, and eat.