Pane e Vino, who was also the head basketball coach at Hayfield High School.What's the difference between running a restaurant and coaching a high school basketball team? We posed that question to David Abella, the owner of Lorton's
"The funny thing is that there are a lot of similarities between the two," said Abella. "If you have nine guys on the floor of the restaurant the key is to have everyone on the same page, just like a game. No one can drop a beat."
The restaurant at 9020 Lorton Station Blvd. opened in 2007, and has seen business slow down since federal sequestration went into effect earlier in the year.
"We are surrounded by defense contractors, so with the furloughs we've felt it. We're down about 10 percent with business," said Abella. "People have told us that they use to come in two times a week and that they just can't afford it now."
Abella, 39, is a lifelong resident of Fairfax County, and graduated from Hayfield. He graduated from Radford University with a degree in Spanish literature. He also minored in criminal justice with the ambition to become an FBI agent. But during summer break he coached Hayfield's summer basketball team, and after graduation got his special education teaching certificate.
Abella, who lives in Occoquan with his wife and three kids, taught special ed and coached at Hayfield for nine years before making a 180 and opening Pane e Vino with his wife, Angela, in 2007.
"I've always had a passion for food and wine," said Abella, "And we'd always played with the idea of opening a restaurant. When I saw they were going to build a new town center in Lorton we decided to go ahead with it."
Abella's leadership style is positive - just like on the court.
"If you're positive, you listen, you're patient and have an open mind then good things are bound to happen," he said. "Whatever the boss is doing is what the employees are going to do."
The Sicilian recipes come from Abella's wife, who's family is Italian.
"We have the best calamari in town and the best pizza around," he said. "I eat it six days a week."
Abella isn't going anywhere soon.
"There's a lot of growth going on in Lorton right now, and it's going to grow even more in the next few years and we're going to take off," he said. "I'm going to be here my entire life. I'm going to watch my kids grow up here and they're going to help me with the business."