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Daily Inspiration: Meet Joan Dolina

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joan Dolina.

Hi Joan, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I’ve taken many paths along the way that somehow led me to the creation of the Arthouse. A cumulative 10 years working in various Baltimore restaurants, studied painting and graphic design at the

Maryland Institute College of Art and was a therapist/social worker in Baltimore City. My love of food/wine and (most) people are definite factors. My Italian grandmother and her passion for cooking (and family) were certainly influential.

She made everything from scratch… pasta, pizza. bread, sauce. Stepping into that Connecticut farmhouse kitchen was pure magic.

Soon after the end of my 25-year marriage, I somewhat foolishly emptied my 401K, sold my house, and invested everything into the Arthouse. Although it has not brought me the financial payoff I was somewhat hoping for, it continues to bring me joy in so many ways… the strangers that become close friends.

The artists and their beautiful work, the relationships among staff and our customers. And the pizza, many, many delicious pizzas! When someone decides to spend their time and hard-earned money with us, it’s important that we make it an enjoyable experience.

We strive to provide fresh, simple comfort food in an environment that brings you a bit of contentment and joy, as a momentary respite this chaotic, stressful world.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I look at the restaurant business as a microcosm of life.

It is not a smooth road, there are days or even weeks when things go smoothly, then a staff member quits without notice, or we lose electricity and our food inventory has to be trashed, a piece of essential kitchen equipment breaks down in the middle of service, or there’s a pandemic.

Oh yeah, the pandemic. So many things do and can go wrong on any given day. You try your best to anticipate and prepare for the worst. At times, you hit the mark and sometimes you miss it. Many mistakes are made along the way (especially in the first few years).

You move on with more knowledge… the biggest lesson being, that there is always more to learn. Staying calm and focusing on healthy communication is extremely important, and so is a sense of humor. Bring an umbrella on the sunny days, and feel appreciation whenever the storm doesn’t materialize.

What do you think about happiness?
Time with other people. Interesting conversation, sharing of ideas, laughter. Good food, wine/cocktails. Art. Nature. exploring new places and staying curious.

My family, friends, and high on the list… my 2-year-old granddaughter.

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Joan Dolina

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