The Art of Dining – The Dining Out Experience


Good evening, I am Michele DiMeo also known as The Restaurant Diva checking in today from Annapolis MD where I not only reside, but where our restaurant empire is headquartered. Myself as well as my partner both in business and life Gennaro own and operate restaurants throughout Maryland, VA, DE and Tennessee and are currently expanding our footprint both with our fast casual pizza and pasta concept Squisito as well as our Italian Chophouse Tuscan Prime. Yes, you heard it correctly and probably the first and most popular question I get before any restaurant or foodie question is you work with your husband, how is that working for you? Well, we have been working side by side for almost 16 years building the brands and creating concepts to wow guests with food and the ultimate dining experience. Gennaro is the restauranteur at heart and brings menu concepts and recipes from his hometown of Naples, Italy, authentic yummy, and I mean yummy Italian creative dishes and I bring the entrepreneurial business concept and design to our team which rounds our partnership perfectly.

Becoming the restaurant Diva

Why the Restaurant Diva you ask and how did I get that title? A good friend gave me that name several years ago while dining at one of my restaurants in Florida. That name not only came to be because of the industry that I work in, but by the experience that I provide to my guests and the image that I create both in and outside of the restaurant- Ok it’s no surprise here that I love fashion and to create an image for myself, but I love and am passionate about creating that same image and over the top dining experience for our guests as well at our restaurants- because let’s get real that is what sets restaurants apart today from the top most successful brands to the average and to the ones that don’t make it- Today it is all about the dining experience- A very loyal guest and now friend once said it perfectly and has stuck in my head through the years- “I eat atmosphere” the food is all extra!!!! That is what it is all about and especially today with the power of social media- if you can’t take a picture or make it insta or tik tok worthy what’s the gimmick or the curb appeal because just good or great food is not enough.

Historical and Statistical information

Here are some crazy statistics about restaurants today The National Restaurant Association estimates a 20% success rate for all restaurants across the board. About 60% of restaurants Fail in their first year of operation, and 80% fail within 5 years of opening. Can you believe the number one reason why restaurants fail is not because of horrible or mediocre food as most would think, crazy as it sounds yes, it’s because of marketing or the lack thereof- So yes, I work in a very competitive and difficult industry and probably one of the most critical on all levels- where you are not critiqued or judged on the product that you are serving hence a restaurant, but what the guest walks away from and how good you are at marketing and creating an experience! Starting a restaurant requires Vision, the perfect location, and lots of capital, but most importantly requires savvy leadership, well trained staff, a creative yummy menu and lot of magic!!!! So that leads me to our discussion and topic today-

Why do people dine out and what is the “perfect dining experience"

People dine out not because they are hungry, but because it is fun and enjoyable, a great place to socialize with friends and family and create memories. Another interesting statistic to ponder here based on Forbes is 62% still prefer to dine in at the restaurant for the total experience versus ordering take out or delivery at 34%. Same food, but the experience/ atmosphere is very different. Eating out is also an opportunity to try yummy new foods that you may not be able to cook at home and let’s face it kitchens are getting smaller and smaller as who really wants to cook at home these days. We joke in my house that our restaurant is our kitchen, and I can cook and put together some great recipes so imagine those not as kitchen savvy? This gives people the ability to have that authentic tasting experience and see what and how it is supposed to look and taste.

OK, but now for the real deal “the experience!”!!! The #1 reason why people dine out because if not, more would stay home cook for themselves and dine. People these days are not just looking for good service, good food, and a good ambiance, but looking for that total Wow experience!!! And how do we define experience it is something that really activates all your senses: smell, sound, sight, touch, taste. Being able to trigger all the key senses- spoken by one of the greats of an interior design firm that specializes in designing restaurants.

This is truly my favorite part of my business designing the ultimate experience. From the time the guest enters the door to the guided tour of the restaurant to be seated at their table, the tour of the menu, the plating and delivery of the food, the steps of service to the yummy over the top desserts and to the warm thank you and farewell. 

As they say, “the hostess with the mostess!!!!”


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