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Alberto Lombardi’s Journey From Italian Seminary Student to Texas Restaurateur

The owner and founder of Lombardi Family Concepts traveled the world before settling in Dallas and opening 40 restaurants.
| |Photography courtesy of Alberto Lombardi
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City of Canals: Lombardi spent time in Venice as a young adult. Later, he’d manage the Venetian Room at Dallas’ Fairmont hotel.
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Alberto Lombardi’s Journey From Italian Seminary Student to Texas Restaurateur

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As a child growing up in Forli, Italy, Alberto Lombardi planned to be a Franciscan monk. “At 9 years old, I went to a seminary,” he says. He left after four years to attend hospitality school, and eventually traveled the world working on a cruise ship.

The owner and founder of Lombardi Family Concepts finally settled in Dallas in 1973, working as a manager at the Fairmont Hotel. He then opened his first restaurant, Lombardi’s, and went on to grow his business to 11 concepts nationwide, most recently debuting the Chinese fusion restaurant Maison Chinoise in Uptown.

Here, the 70-something restaurateur shares more about his journey to America: “At 17, I left, on my own, to seek adventure. My plan was to learn a couple of languages and then return to Italy. I left for Germany, then I wanted to learn French, so I went to Belgium. I spent three years there working in the best restaurants at the time. I went to Oslo for six months, and then I went to work on a luxury Norwegian-American cruise ship. For two years, I was a waiter full-time and went around the world. I left the ship in Miami without the intention of staying. I drove to San Francisco, where I lived for six months. My girlfriend at the time got a job opportunity in Texas. We decided to come to Dallas, get my papers, and go back to San Francisco. But, once we got my papers, she was expecting a baby, so I went to work for Fairmont. I opened my first restaurant in 1977 on McKinney Avenue. Since then, I’ve opened about 40 restaurants. Today, we have 20 and will open two more in early 2024.”  

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Kelsey Vanderschoot

Kelsey Vanderschoot

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Kelsey J. Vanderschoot came to Dallas by way of Napa, Los Angeles, and Madrid, Spain. A former teacher, she joined…
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