By Mike Bisceglia
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, September 10, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene ]
Marie "Momma Hugs" Coletta, who recently celebrated the 32nd anniversary of her 38th birthday, makes sure that all each person who works there a substantial amount of caring. "I consider everyone here to be family," she said sincerely, "and if you don't have love, you don't have a family!"
The family Momma embraces this year totaled about 110. Interestingly, very few of the folks in that number can claim any Italians in their ancestry. This year's family included: Russians, Romanians, Estonians, Bulgarians, Polish and Irish. All told, some 12 countries were represented in this year's summer staff.
"We love our staff," "Father" Frank Coletta said about his crew. "It's our family tradition. We treat our staff like family, and our guests like royalty. It's a win-win combination."
Frank, Marie's son works to make sure that everyone who dons a black La Bec T-shirt is safe and happy. "If everyone here isn't having a great summer, we know it and we try to do what we can so our people can really enjoy themselves while they're here."
The Colettas do go the extra mile for their help from abroad. John Moura, of Hampton , is the "Go To" Guy on staff. In addition to a myriad of responsibilities at the restaurant, he makes sure the employees find safe, affordable housing; introduces the "family" to numerous stores which provide the best values; and answers any and all questions about life in coastal New Hampshire.
John even takes "family newbies" on day trips to places of interest in the Northeast. Most recently, he loaded several into a van for some great sightseeing at Niagara Falls. "They had a great time," he boasted, "and came back feeling more like family than ever."
"Our traditions are important," so claimed grandson, Anthony Coletta. "So many of the people on staff come back year after year because of the positive experience they have with us. Word gets around in their families at home, and soon we have a relative of someone who just enjoyed the best summer of their life here on the shores of Hampton."
Marianna Sebokova couldn't agree more. Even though she has received her Master's Degree in Business Management in her home country of Slovakia, she finds life at La Bec definitely to her liking. "This is my seventh year here, and I love it!"
Romanian, Alina Ruxandar will be completing her medical degree this year, and has just finished her first year with the Colettas. "The family gave me a lot of confidence to do things I never thought I could. And, when things got a little rough, Momma Hugs was always there and everything seemed to get just a little better."
Izabella Radulova of Bulgaria says that working here was the biggest adventure of her life. "I even learned how to be a Red Sox fan!" Native New Englander, Angela Cleveland said about La Bec, "It is a very pleasant work environment. Nice family. Nice attitude. I may have made some wrong turns in life, but coming here was the best right turn I ever made. That was four years ago."
La Bec boasts three floors of entertainment, and, yes, the entertainers consider themselves to be family as well. Local singer, Joe McDonald said with a chuckle, "I love it here. Even when they don't want me here . . . I show up!"
Senior waitress, Colleen Cullen said, "I am very blessed to be here. It's been seven years now, and I smile each time I walk through the door."
The flags proudly flying from La Bec's front portico don't mean that the cuisine is representative of all of those countries. It does mean that the staff is. "It came to me in a dream," Frank said, thoughtfully. "I just dreamed that a flag for everyone here would be a great idea. You know, it was. Our kids communicate with their families back home and tell them that their native flag flies in front of the place and they are proud to be here."
Momma Hugs smiled kindly and said, "I knew we were making the right move when we bought La Bec. All that has happened to us here has been just one good thing after another. We know it. We feel it, and we try to show it in every way we can. In our own little way, we just might be making a positive impact on folks all around the world."
I told her that I thought she was probably right. She smiled and sent me on my way with . . . a hug, of course!
made a right move coming to work at La Bec
and her first year at La Bec.
from Vlovakia, is a waitress in her 7th year, enjoy a light moment.