Dining with Umberto P. Fedeli lives up to all the hype

Over the years, I’ve heard from many business leaders about what a unique experience it is to have lunch in the dining room at The Fedeli Group.

So when I was given the chance to do so myself last month, I became very excited. What would the meal be? Who else would be there? Would it live up to the high expectations I had built up in my mind based on all those glowing reviews?

It didn’t take long after my arrival to realize that all the high praise was quite genuine. For it is indeed a special opportunity when you get invited to dine with Umberto P. Fedeli.

The first thing you notice is that Fedeli works right alongside his kitchen staff delivering food and offering to pour wine for his guests. This isn’t being done for show. He’s on his feet as much as anyone making sure everyone has what they need at the table.

And when it was time for the main course to be served, Fedeli demonstrated that chivalry is not dead. He made sure that each of his female guests received their meal first, and then served everybody else.

In a way, the meal was a culmination of my journey to get to know Fedeli. We met several times over the last few months as I put together the cover story that appears in this month’s issue. At each meeting, I was warmly welcomed into his office.

I always strive to make my interviews feel more like conversations and few have made that effort easier than Fedeli. I also worked with Angela Richards and Amanda Grygiel — who were always so polite and helpful — to obtain the photos and other materials I needed to put my story together.

But the meal will certainly stand out as one of the highlights. Each course was delicious, from the fresh salad and pizza appetizers, to the beautifully prepared main course of chicken and asparagus to the tasty dessert. It was also a very productive meeting as our team at Smart Business met with the 2018 ASPIRE Host Committee to continue planning for our annual dealmakers’ conference coming up in May.

In these times where so much of our world seems chaotic and lacking in decorum, this experience was exactly the opposite. Some day when I look back over my career, I’m sure that it will be right near the top of the list as one of the highlights. ●

Mark Scott is senior associate editor at Smart Business Cleveland