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As part of our EMV Films series highlighting some of the myriad creative businesses, organizations and people in Mill Valley, California, we’re spotlighting a trio of businesses whose deep roots and committed engagement here have woven them into the fabric of our community: La Ginestra, Piazza D’Angelo and Malugani Tire Shop. We’ll be highlighting more of these businesses in the coming months!

What gives customers the warm and fuzzies that go way beyond the transaction?

The video below tells the story of three family-owned businesses that have captured that essence of community, from La Ginestra‘s hugs and warmth at “our Italian kitchen away from home” and Piazza D’Angelo‘s authenticity that leaves both locals and Italian visitors feeling like they’re in Italy to the longstanding relations engendered by the owners of Malugani Tire Shop, whose history dates back to 1948.

Salvatore and Maria Aversa moved to Mill Valley as a recently married couple after emigrating from Sorrento, Italy. They opened their restaurant in May 1964 and named it La Ginestra after the Scotch broom vegetation that was prevalent in both the wilderness of Mount Tamalpais and in the hills surrounding their hometown. The couple raised their three children – Lucia, Fabio and Tino – in Mill Valley. Maria Aversa and her children and family continue to greet customers at the door when they arrive.

Around the corner, 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. 

And a few blocks away 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, and customers like Scott Valley resident Carol Lenherr are aghast when they referred to as such. “Customers? They’re family. We never even thought of them as friends. You couldn’t hope to know better people in the world than them – what you see is what you get.”

“We’re about we’re about relationships,” owner Kendal Savelli says.

Video by Summertime Films, commissioned by the Mill Valley Chamber. Thanks to Norm Hunter and his team. Many more films to come showcasing the boundless innovation, community vitality and entrepreneurial spirit of Mill Valley.

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