Why does Filomena do such involved and extensive decorating for every holiday? We hear that question all the time so I’ll try to explain to some degree.
When I was a small child, life was lived so very differently (no TV or electronics or appliances). I was part of a large, hard working family. My father, Antimo, was the sole provider and my mother, Filomena, was the housewife. She worked so very hard to take care of all of us but she managed to keep a very happy home.
Back in those days most people spent almost all of their free time at home. Everyone worked very hard physically each day and was quite tired by sun set. They looked forward to going home and staying home. No one I knew in those days ever went out to eat. Eating at home with family and relatives or friends was a real centerpiece of comradely and enjoyment where we learned about each others lives and dreams. Holidays were greatly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed.
All holidays were big celebrations times and my mom wanted the house to reflect each holiday. She wanted everyone to know and see and feel the spirit of each holiday. She did not want for us to only know it was a holiday – she wanted us to feel the holiday all around us.
I can remember when our house was all decorated; I couldn’t wait to get home from school. I loved feeling I was in the middle of it all. We had special foods and desserts for each holiday and friends and relatives visited each other’s homes to see each other’s decorations. My brothers and I always thought our decorations were the best.
Everywhere you looked in our home was a little something of the holiday. My mother was a master of making something about of almost nothing and every year she tried to do something a little different. Of course it was not the scale of Filomena. What she did for a few, we do for many and over do at that!
We try to create a similar feeling – we love flight of fancy. Something to make you look twice or just smile.
Whether you like or dislike a holiday – you will notice and hopefully if for only a moment or two forget any stressful thoughts in your day and just focus on whimsy!
You cannot visit Filomena and not know if it is a holiday – It’s impossible! Something’s are cute – some just silly – all are over the top!
But my hope is that for all the effort work and time and patience that it takes to create these decorations that they will do for each of my guests what my Mother’s house did for me. It caught me up on gossamer wings of fantasy and smiles and gave me the warm and wonderful memories that still are alive for me so many years later.
So put your troubles on a back burner and – Simile!
We try our best to make and display things you won’t see anywhere else. This is very time consuming but we think it’s worth it. We are so truly unique. We know of no other restaurant in the US or abroad that does holiday decorating like Filomena -= another reason why we’re one of a kind!
Our most extensive holiday decorations are Christmas, Easter and Halloween. We also decorate to the degree possible on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and 4th of July.
One of the most important aspects that JoAnna carried from her family to the restaurant was the tradition of sharing a glass of Sambucca or Amaretto with dinner guests at the end of a meal. JoAnna took this one step further and decided that it would make guests feel more like friends and special "company" if they could pour their own Sambucca at the end of the meal just as they would if they were guests in her home. She also added Amaretto for those who didn't care for Sambucca when she first opened so that they could have a drink with everyone else. Although the Amaretto was more often chosen in the early days of Filomena, that trend has completely reversed itself and now most guests prefer the Sambucca.
JoAnna also decided to bring another family tradition into the restaurant: that of celebrating every holiday to the fullest. Decorating was a priority during the holidays, and so it has become at Filomena. JoAnna had many items from her Mother and has spent countless hours finding and creating just the right decorations to make every holiday something special. Many guests will call to ask if the holiday decorations are still up before coming to dinner – they don't want to miss them. Some guests make it a point to visit the restaurant each and every holiday to check the decorations.
The Christmas tree at Filomena's house was always very special and so our Christmas tree has become a centerpiece for the restaurant. JoAnna always finds a tree that is just a little bit bigger, taller, and fuller than there is room for in the dining room, and decorates it with thousands of antique ornaments, little "treasures" and lights. Guests come to see the tree from all over the world long before and long after Christmas. The most asked questions at Christmas are "How many lights are on the tree," and "How many ornaments are on the tree?" As for the ornaments, we have no idea. They go up in segments, box after box, and there is no way to count them. Guests and employees alike always have fun trying to estimate—the going count is about 5,500. We only know for sure that there are thousands. As to the question of lights, since they go up in strings of 100, we are pretty close when we say at least 10,000.
After almost three years of contractors and painstaking labor, antiquing, cost overruns, permits, and headaches, JoAnna had finally managed to turn the shells of two dilapidated buildings into an Italian Family Fantasy – the Filomena Ristorante.