Downtown restaurateur cooks up new book

Co-owner of LITM talks about creating eatery from ‘scratch’

Jelynne Jardiniano remembers her first job in the restaurant business, a seafood eatery on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
“I was 19 and I thought I wanted to go to law school,” Jardiniano said recently. “Then I decided to take a year off after my freshman year, and that’s when I discovered my love of restaurants.”
The Cornell University graduate, who grew up in Jersey City, carried that love with her when she opened the popular downtown bar/restaurant LITM (abbreviation of Love Is the Message) in 2003 with financial help from her family.
She is sharing some more of that love in her new book, “Restaurant from Scratch: How to Trust Your Heart, Listen to the Market and Beat the Odds” (Advantage Media Group; $20.95).


Jardiniano opened LITM in 2003.

In the book, released this past November, Jardiniano tells how to start your own restaurant with only a few years of experience and very little money. She also explains how to keep it running. But for Jardiniano, outlining the technical aspects of the business was not enough. She also saw the opportunity to speak to budding restaurateurs about “personal empowerment.”
“I also wanted a motivational book on how to start your own successful restaurant,” Jardiniano said. “When the rubber meets the road, it helps you to know how to meet the personal challenges.”
She will celebrate the book with a release party at LITM, located on Newark Avenue, on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.

Making it happen

“Restaurant from Scratch” tells the story of not only Jardiniano’s early struggles to open her first restaurant, but what it takes to keep it open for the long haul.
Some of the helpful tidbits she features include “The Top 10 Thoughts” that budding entrepreneurs hear when starting out a restaurant, as a means of discouragement: “There is too much competition” and “You don’t make money from restaurants.”
Also in the book, she offers advice on knowing how to grow with the business, saying that not all the answers are there at the outset.
“At every level and in any industry, a business never has it completely together,” Jardiniano writes.
She also discusses the personal aspects of being in business. In one chapter she recalls how she was slowly able to convince members of her family to join her venture, with surprising help from her mother.
“My mother did the unexpected,” Jardiniano writes. “She offered to take a second mortgage on the [family] home and suggested we talk the rest of our siblings into doing the same.”
Jardiniano also looks back at being a local activist. In 2005, she led other restaurant owners in downtown Jersey City to lobby the city to allow alcohol to be served at later hours, despite stiff opposition.
Even after all she has gone through to build up her business, she said writing a book was just as intimidating. Still, she had support from her husband, Robert Fiorito. He encouraged her to write the book in the first place after seeing how her customers sought her out for advice on starting a business.
“There was hesitation in finishing the book because I was thinking, ‘What if someone who reads this book follows it and doesn’t get what they want?’ ” Jardiniano said. “My husband made me realize that I am responsible to the reader but not responsible for the reader.”
Jardiniano said she hopes the book will give readers “forward momentum” to pursue their dreams, whether they involve opening a restaurant or any other business.


© 2000, Newspaper Media Group