by Laurel Meny
Home to the largest selection of locally owned restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment options in Southwest Florida, there is no shortage of business owners who have a story of starting and managing a business along Fifth Avenue South.
Interestingly enough, some of the Avenue’s most successful are female – and the three we spoke with run their businesses with their mothers.
Here is what we learned from a few of those Avenue veterans – and novices – about what it takes to be a small business owner on one of the nation’s most popular streets.
The first female restauranteur on Fifth Avenue South, Maria Furetta, owner of Bellini on Fifth, has been a mainstay on the Avenue for years.
Originally from Torino, Italy, Furetta raised her family in New Jersey for over 20 years, before opening a small restaurant there in 1991. By 1995, she decided to move to Naples, where her children thought she would be retiring. That was when Bellini on Fifth was born.
What began as a small trattoria-style restaurant has flourished into an upscale, fine dining establishment with two indoor dining areas, an ample outdoor patio, a full martini bar, and arguably some of the very best authentic Spaghetti Bolognese around.
After a successful career in PR that had her living in Milan, Italy, then to London as a corporate communications director, in 1998 Maria’s daughter, Stefania Furetta Martin, joined the family business, followed shortly by her brother, Massimo Furetta.
“The success of Bellini lies in the fact that each family member has his or her own area of expertise,” said Stefania. “ My mother’s talent lies in the kitchen, my brother’s talent lies in the front of the restaurant, I have a knack for managing the staff and the marketing, and even my husband Stephen has found his niche at the bar.
We are truly a team and our passion for the food we serve, the atmosphere we provide, and the location we treasure – Fifth Avenue South – is evident in everything that we do.” And, according to Maria, location is key.
“There have been many transformations and visions for what Fifth Avenue South is – and can be. But, through each version, it has remained the premier downtown destination for locals and tourists, both national and international, which helps keep our restaurant full,” said Maria.