“Customers? We’re family.” That’s Scott Valley resident Carol Lenherr’s explanation of her family’s patronage of Malugani Tire Center for many decades of the shop’s more than 70 years in business. At businesses like Malugani, Piazza D’Angelo, Mill Valley Market, La Ginestra, Sofia Jewelry, Jolly King Liquors, Rocco’s Pizza and others, family and business are inextricably linked.
Salvatore and Maria Aversa moved to Mill Valley as a recently married couple after emigrating from Sorrento, Italy, opening La Ginestra in 1964, drawing the name from the Scotch broom vegetation that was prevalent in both the wilderness of Mount Tamalpais and in the hills surrounding their hometown. Your dining experience might find you interacting with the entire Aversa family through the course of a meal. Maria Aversa and her children and family continue to greet customers at the door when they arrive.
Although they’ve passed the proverbial baton to their respective children, Felicia Ferguson and Luigi Petrone, Domenico and Paolo Petrone, who opened Piazza D’Angelo in 1981, drawing inspiration from their hometown of Decollatura in Calabria, the “toe” of the Italian peninsula, continue to be mainstays at a downtown hub that exudes authenticity.
After growing up in Marin, siblings Sophie and Lucas
Priolo moved out of the Bay Area to pursue their
respective careers in ballet. They charted very different paths back home to the family business Sofia Jewelry, which their parents, Carl and Susan Priolo, founded in 1994. “Lucas always wanted to do it – he designed jewelry,” she says. “Me? I never thought I would be back in the family business. But when they name it after me, I have no choice!” Sophie Priolo says with a laugh. Susan Priolo passed away in 2019. “She is the light of this business and we carry it on in her name.”
Jolly King Liquors
After five years at Wells Fargo Bank in Sausalito, Nidhi Dhir is now carrying the baton and “learning the family business,” says her father Anil. The Dhir family has owned Jolly King Liquors at 393 Miller Ave. for 27 years. The shop emerged out of the literal ashes of a fire in June 1963 on the property. Anil, Sue and Nidhi Dir run the shop with help from Sue’s brother Pardeep Bali.
Malugani Tire Center
On Miller Avenue, five family members run Malugani, and
their extended next generation of family regularly take summer jobs at a business that Dan Malugani Sr. opened more than 70 years ago. Malugani’s Mill Valley Little League team is called the Lugnuts. “We’re about relationships,” Malugani owner Kendal Savelli says. “Many of our interactions with customers start with simply catching up
about family and friends.”
Prabh Indian Kitchen
That same dynamic, whereby a business transaction often takes a backseat to simply catching up with longtime customers, also rules the day at Prabh Indian Kitchen, says co-owner Tripta Dhillon. She and husband Raghbir Dhindsa opened the restaurant on Sunnyside Ave. in 2013. They live
upstairs from the restaurant, so it’s all hands on deck, all the time, serving customers, and even those just buying gift cards to provide them some cash flow. “That really touched our hearts,” she says.
Mill Valley Market
Over Mill Valley Market’s 90-plus years in business, the baton has been passed more times than in a 4×100 relay race. The local institution was founded in July 1929 by Frank Canepa, whose eldest son Jim took it over in 1955, handing it off to his sons, Doug and David Canepa, 35 years later. Ryan Canepa and longtime family friend Abner Chinchilla joined as partners, and Eugene Canepa remains
a store manager. The market’s Shop & Give program has donated more than $1M to local community organizations.
With all four of their kids and their son-in-law working at the family business, Luciano and Rosilene Faria rarely have to wonder who’s going to be home for dinner. Starting as a teenager, Luciano worked for Stefano’s Pizza owner Bob Valentino for 22 years, officially buying out his partner’s share in Rocco’s in 2014. “It’s such a privilege,” Rosilene says. “We brought up our kids to appreciate the family business. We have the most amazing kids.”
You’ll find this feature and an array of other inspiring, practical content, from bits of wisdom to recipes and more, in our 2020-21 EMV Guide, which appears within the August 2020 issue of Marin Magazine.