Spotlight On: Kara & Frankie Cecchinelli

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Kara & Frankie own Figidini Wood Fire Eatery

67 Washington Street in Providence

 

How did you meet?

 

We met through mutual friends on Cape Cod at our friends’ former restaurant and bar, The Beach House, in Falmouth. Kara had just returned from living in Santa Barbara and Frankie had only been back for a few years from living in Los Angeles. So it’s funny we fell in love where we grew up after we both had our individual West Coast experiences and were certain we would live out the rest of our lives in California.

 

Do you have different roles within Figidini? 

 

Frankie is responsible for all back of the house along with being the only pizza maker, and Kara is responsible for the front of the house along with handling all the administrative and accounting duties for the business. There is some crossover and the concept/creation of Figidini was, without a doubt, a collaboration of both of us.

 

What’s it like running a business together?

 

Before we had Figidini we had a mobile wood fire catering business and that was really a test run to see if we could work together. We knew we were capable, but wanted a place with walls and a storefront so we moved forward with Figidini in Providence. This industry in general is really like no other. Frankie grew up in the restaurant business and I (Kara) did not, so it was a huge learning experience for me. It can be very challenging and, of course, very rewarding. The positives drastically outweigh the negatives. It has changed our relationship and marriage, but we are closing in on five years of running Figidini and we can’t imagine not working together. We are a team.

 

Kara and Frankie on a recent hike.

What do you admire about your spouse?

 

Kara: Have you ever been around someone who truly wants to be the best in their field? That is Frankie (110 percent) when it comes to pizza, specifically Neapolitan pizza. I have never seen someone so dedicated by constantly working toward perfection. His passion of the craft is such a labor of love and that translates into the rest of how he feels about cooking and also about having a place where service should reflect that. He knows he taught me a ton about how to run a restaurant, and his standards — from cleanliness to pace — keep me inspired. Most people only know him behind the glass making pizza, but actually most of his career PF (pre-Figidini) was running the front of the house. I’ve seen him take a complicated order for a party with 18 people and not write one thing down. I’m not there yet (haha), but that type of skill runs in his blood. He also has really great hair.

Frankie: Kara loves people, and not only does she enjoy communicating with others, she really knows how to connect with people from any background. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from when you are in our place; she sets the bar at equality and compassion. Her interpersonal skills have made our little 888 square unit into a place where you can feel part of something. Sometimes I joke and say, “How’s the food, how’s the conversation?” because she has developed so many relationships with customers that when they come in it’s not about just getting you a meal, it’s about checking in and making sure life is okay. I think that’s what makes her so special.

 

How do you make time for your relationship? Any advice you’d give to other couples?

 

We have established a routine. It’s not super strict on our days off, but we have an understanding that at the end of the day we don’t just rush to bed, but instead we call it “decompressing.” Just getting into comfortable clothes, making a cup of tea, giving each other time to chill out and reflect on the day. We try not to consume our non-restaurant life with Figidini talk because it can get overwhelming.

The advice that we would give is something we work on all the time: “awareness.” Awareness if your partner needs something or awareness of how they’re feeling. You can always make room for more awareness. Awareness includes making adjustments as needed to sustain a healthy relationship.

Oh, and have fun. We work really hard and learned quickly in our relationship that you can create fun in any situation. There’s so much pressure to consume, buy a big house, an expensive car, go on vacations, etc. It’s all BS. We live a very conservative lifestyle and I can tell you the best moments are the least expensive. Don’t get me wrong – we love to travel, but this idea that you need to spend a lot of money to show your partner you love them is completely untrue. A diamond is not a girl’s best friend. Instead go get a bottle of wine, some cheese, fresh bread, some fig jam, a frisbee, and have a picnic in a field overlooking the ocean because you may just fall in love.

 

The Margherita di Bufala. Frankie has made every single pizza served at Figidini!

When you’re not working, how do you like to spend time together?

 

Sundays are our only day off and typically we will go see family on the Cape, but we try to have some sort of adventure when we can. Getting lost in the woods or exploring while listening to ambient music is kind of our favorite thing. Being out in nature where there is total silence except for wildlife is like our reset button. We live by the mantra “follow your bliss.” It’s a tribute to our friend and basically it’s about going outside in nature to find what’s inside. It’s funny we have a business and live in the city, but we seek refuge in the wilderness! Also we love to eat (who would have guessed?) so most time together is figuring out meals. Recently we started cooking together and it’s quite entertaining. A wooden spoon can be a weapon if you get near my soup.

 

What kind of pizza would you share?

 

You can share a pizza? That’s actually a serious question. Truth be told the last time we “shared” a pizza was in NYC when we were eating 5-7 pizzas/day on our pizzacation. We may have coined the term “pizzacation.” You heard it here first! Typically we do not share a pizza at Figidini, because they are an individual serving, but I guess if we had to the go-to is always the Margherita di Bufala. Classic and simple … nothing like our relationship.

xo,

Kara & Frankie

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