Get to know Rino……


Where is your family from?

Both my parents immigrated here from Italy.  My mom is Calabrese while my dad is Friulan.  I often joke how I got the best of both worlds with a bit of northern Italy and a bit of southern Italy in the mix.  Both my brother Mike and myself were born here in Windsor, went to school here, and have now chosen to raise our families here as well.

Where/how did you meet your wife?

IMG_6853I met Anastasia through a mutual friend.  We got to know each other really well and started dating on a trip to Europe.  We’ve been together for 16 years now and each year it gets better and better.

Is it true that you work with your wife?

When we opened Rino’s Kitchen we made a conscious choice to open a restaurant that would be inclusive of our family goals, meaning we would get to spend time together. The first 3 years saw me growing the restaurant and Anastasia supporting the family working elsewhere. When the time was right we decided to have her join the restaurant and add her business management experience with mine.  We have worked together in the past but after years of marriage and parenting we have learned the right formula that makes us a great team.  Her customer service is amazing, she takes care of the front of the house while the kitchen is my domain.  It’s also been great to truly have a family restaurant.  At any given time you may see our kids shuffling about the restaurant or in the backyard.  Everyone is part of the effort.

What do you do in your free time?

IMG_1633Free time is somewhat sparse when you have 3 young kids and your own business but I do get to squeeze in time at the boxing gym with my boys.  It’s very rewarding and great way to let off steam. I also have taken up running (or should I say my wife has forced me to take up running).  We’re committed to run the half marathon in October.  I also love contributing to CJAM FM 99.1 Rose City Politics radio show every Wednesday night at 8pm.  It’s a great avenue to share ideas and learn a lot about municipal issues.

What inspired you to become a chef?

zehrs chefI was working in area restaurants while going to University but found myself enjoying work much more than school.  It was not only rewarding work but a very good creative outlet.  I was very lucky to work in some of the areas best restaurants and under great chefs like Nick Politi from Nico’s.  From the very beginning he gave me the latitude to do my own thing and allowed me to grow both creatively and skillfully.  The satisfaction that comes with being part of so many special occasions and seeing people so appreciative of a great dinner has always been motivation for me.  Sharing a meal with someone regularly is important and leads to better health, keeping it fresh and creative at the same time keeps me going and motivated as a chef.

You are a chef, what makes you want to run for City council?

My strong belief in connecting businesses to the local community and sharing that voice and perspective on Council is why I decided to run.  A lot of what cookbook picwe’ve done at Rino’s Kitchen is connecting to the community.  We have made many partnerships with local wineries, breweries, and farmers.  Understanding the regional dynamic and everything that goes into the local economy has given me a new perspective. Wanting to elevate the reputation of our neighborhood and the region as a whole is always at the forefront.  Windsor/Essex is an amazing place to live and raise a family, I want to make sure as many people as possible know that and share that pride.

Why are you Focused on small business struggles?

Small businesses are truly the engine of any economy.  Small businesses make up almost 60% of the workforce.  I have owned my own business for many years and have experienced both failure and great success.  Through failure I have learned to understand the many struggles that residents face in tough economic times.  I have been able to learn and persevere.  The resilience that I have shown and the hard work that I have done is indicative of the type of person that Windsor breeds.  That hard work and creative approach has brought us great success at Rino’s Kitchen but it has been a work in progress. Success does not come overnight. That success has come with great collaboration and partnerships in the community.  Small businesses inherently strengthen the fabric of any community and make it stronger overall.

What traits do you have that would make you a good city councillor?

IMG_1934First and foremost I am passionate about Windsor and my neighborhood.  Being a lifelong resident and business owner of Windsor has given me a unique perspective.  I am also extremely hard working and work very well with others.  I have had great success in collaborating with other businesses.  I often attribute the success of Rino’s Kitchen to the many people we work with on a regular basis.  Bringing together local talent to achieve common goals has been my forte.

What is something you are passionate about outside of the restaurant business?

I love to travel.  I was lucky to have parents who loved to explore.  I fondly remember childhood summers in the back seat of our Chevy Malibu driving to different parts of Canada.  I spent a year after high school traveling and working in Mexico.  I also spent IMG_0944a year traveling throughout Europe after University.  I have been coast to coast in Canada as well as the United States.  Most recently my wife Anastasia and I got to share that love for travel with our kids.  We worked very hard to be able to go away for 3 weeks last year in an epic road trip to Banff Alberta.  3 kids and a dog made it an interesting adventure.  Nothing matches the magic of watching the kids’ faces when we drove through the Rocky Mountains for the first time.  Exploring and getting to know the beauty of Canada never gets old.