Diego Tantardini has a long history baking, starting in Milan, Italy when he was just 15 years old. His wife and two children came to the United States in 2012 for school, with the plan to go back to Italy in a few years time. They quickly discovered they felt at home in Redding, California, and decided to stay.
A quick vacation back to Italy in 2014 renewed a culinary spark. “We realized there was a big difference in the food in the U.S. and the food in Italy-especially the bread,” he says. Upon their return to Redding, Tantardini decided to start baking bread to share. Tantardini's Italian cooking was well received, and he soon opened a European-style bakery and deli. The namesake restaurant offers pastries, sandwiches and entrees. Additionally, Tantardini’s sells wholesale to other restaurants, coffee shops, and to the local convention center.
In Italy Tantardini was the head of a purchasing department where he managed six employees and an annual budget of $50 million euros. Even with a background in business, Tantardini found that opening and operating a company in the U.S. was different from his work in Europe.
SCORE helped Tantardini navigate local laws and develop a business plan. He also worked with mentors on financial planning.
That business plan is an integral component to Tantardini, as he has to renew his visa every two years. “I need to be able to show my business plan, track where the money comes from and goes, and have airtight documentation,” Tantardini says.
Tantardini’s restaurant is contemplating moving to a bigger space due to rapid growth. The company won a Mom & Pop Business Award from the Greater Redding Chamber of Commerce in 2016.
Tantardini also teaches cooking classes at Shasta College. One of his students went on to win the television cooking show “Chopped Junior.”
SCORE mentors Dave Waters and Blake Werner would sit down with Tantardini and go through the numbers. They worked together on small scale business plans, identifying a variety of customer bases and the products the restaurant could offer.
"SCORE is a great resource, especially because they are located where you are opening your business. They know the scenario of the market. The people that do counseling for SCORE have been in business before so they know from experience. I recommend it to any business owner, with any level of experience," Tantardini explains.