Leading with Faith honorees — Emily and Elliot Benincasa

| July 26, 2019 | 0 Comments
Elliot and Emily Benincasa inside the restaurant they owned for 37 years.

Elliot and Emily Benincasa inside the restaurant they owned for 37 years. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Retired owners, Emily’s F&M Cafe

Age: Emily, 79; Elliot, 82
Parish: St. Joseph the Worker, Maple Grove; St. Bridget, Minneapolis
Children: Elliot Jr., Michael, Mary Machado
Education: High school
Number of years with restaurant: 37 years

First-generation Italian-Americans, Emily and Elliot Benincasa developed their restaurant into an important fixture on Minneapolis’ Northside. Their Christ-like giving included never turning away anyone who came in hungry and providing second chances, such as employing formerly-incarcerated individuals. Now named Emily’s Eatery, the restaurant remains in the family, with a niece and her husband the new owners. For the Benincasas, “leading with faith” in part means “we get up in the morning and thank the Lord.”

Q Describe your business.

A We ran a restaurant with American and Italian breakfast and lunch food. We bought it in 1983, and it was open 17 hours a day. Eventually, it became just breakfast and lunch.

Q Describe your position and role.

A We were working owners. Emily was the chef of home-cooked meals. Elliot did his part as cook on the grill and the paperwork.

Q What does “leading with faith” mean to you?

A We get up in the morning and thank the Lord. We never turned anyone away who came in hungry. We shared as much as we could. We treated everyone as a brother and sister.

Q How do you concretely apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

A We’ve lived a life that went along with goodness, but we are also sinners. We live every day striving to live as Christ would want us to.

Q Who or what has inspired you to bring your faith to the marketplace?

A Our family was very religious. Elliot’s aunt was a mother superior in a convent close to Rome, and his father had studied for the priesthood. St. Catherine of Siena gave us inspiration. Our priest friend Father Paul Jarvis has also been an inspiration.

Q What achievement at work are you most proud of?

A We are most proud of raising our children and being married for 60 years. Elliot notes that Emily makes everything happen.

Q What advice do you have for others who want to lead with faith?

A Be good and honest to (those) you deal with.

Eight honored for Leading with Faith

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Category: Leading With Faith