The two images above are (left) a still from a film made by my grandfather Agostino De Marco outside his home in Picinisco in 1949 and (right) a clip taken from the 1952 wedding photograph of Luigi Di Paolo and Emilia Dimarco, daughter of Lorenzo Dimarco, my grandfather's cousin. My grandfather film includes members of the De Marco, Dimarco, Pia, Di Paolo, Capaldi, Crolla, Pelosi families and probably others I don't know about. In this still, the families are posing outside the house after what must have been an extensive and convivial family celebration. Luigi Di Paolo is sitting on the chair at the front and he and his companions are obviously in a very good mood indeed. All the families are related in some way and you can see some of these links by viewing the partial family tree on this site, and, of course their business in England was the manufacture of dairy ice cream on the premises of their cafes and ice cream parlours.
Sadly most of these businesses have closed but on a recent trip to Hastings, my son Nick De Marco stopped at Bexhill to photograph the De La Warr Pavilion and called in at Di Paolo's Cafe opposite. He was surprised and delighted to discover the family connection and that Luigi and Pasquale Di Paolo and their cousin Joseph DiMascio are now running the shop.
The premises were bought from my godfather Luigi Capaldi who was married to Carmella De Marco, my father's cousin and, she, in turn, was the cousin of Luigi Di Paolo's wife Emilia Dimarco.
My sister Nina remembers Luigi Di Paolo and Emilia from our childhood days and my sister also knew their son Giovanni Di Paolo and his wife Christine and I am sure thay in turn will remember my father Giacinto (George) De Marco. So the best of wishes to this continuing family buisness and on the firm recommendation of my son, you must visit Di Paolo's yourself at 5 Marina, Bexhill-on-Sea, TN40 1DA.
Like many Italian families in the UK ice cream business, the Di Paolo family originates from the Valle De Comino region of Lazio in Italy. In the late 1890’s, Lorenzo Di Marco came to England from Picinisco. Upon his arrival, he worked in his uncle’s ice cream parlour/confectionery business in Eastbourne. His uncle made the ice cream, and a young Lorenzo would take it up to the famous ‘Beachy Head’ to sell it from his ice cream barrow.
Lorenzo met his wife Orazia Pellosi and went back to Picinisco to marry her. When they both returned to England, they decided to open their own café/ice cream parlour in 1905 at Wellington Place in Hastings. They built up a very successful and highly regarded business and forged a relationship with the Ice Cream Alliance. The family were very successful in the national competitions winning a first prize gold medal in 1934 and then going on to win the prestigious ‘Fachinni’ Silver cup in 1937 and flowing that, numerous diplomas and diplomas of merit right up to the late 1950’s.
Lorenzo and Orazia had four children, Maria, Michele, Emilia and Serafino. Their daughter Emilia married Luigi Di Paolo in 1952. Lorenzo then expanded the business by buying premises next door and so “Di Marco Bros” was born. This new state-of-the-art café/restaurant seated 200 people and was fitted out with a modern kitchen which served hot and cold meals, snacks and take away food. A separate table service section was included within the restaurant and a Classic ‘Edoni’ batch freezer was also installed in the window of the restaurant so that customers could watch the ice cream being made.
Luigi Di Paolo was made a partner in the business and along with Emilia and her brothers, they took the business even further by turning the basement of the existing premises into an ice cream production facility. The business then expanded and ice cream was made and supplied to their own vans and local hotels as well as meeting the demand from the ice cream parlour.
Sadly, this business closed in 1985, but Emilia and Luigi’s son Giovanni had opened a new café at 5 Marina, Bexhill On Sea along with his wife Christine in 1981.
They bought this business from a cousin, Luigi Capaldi, who also had been making ice cream on the premises since 1946. Giovanni and Christine had to work hard to turn the business around to meet the demands of more modern consumers so they increases their menu to provide restaurant type cuisine and they totally revamped the rear of the café which was originally Mr Capaldi’s ice cream factory into a table-service restaurant to cater for the increase` in trade and also private functions and parties.
It is now Giovanni’s and Christine’s children, Luigi and Pasquale and their cousin Joseph DiMascio who run the business and they are now talking the family business and its traditions well into its fourth generation of ownership.
Luigi is ‘Capo Gelateriere’ the head artisan ice cream chef. He has benefited from three generations of experience and knowledge and has recently been trying new ideas and flavours to reflect a more classic Italian style to suit today’s trends. Luigi is also working towards perfecting the presentation of the ice cream and has also made the step of sourcing ingredients for making ice cream from a local dairy farm, which he says has greatly improved the recipe. He says “The ice cream we produce now is typically Italian Gelato, with use if sorbet for fruit flavours and a low-fat but creamy ice cream for vanilla, Stracciatella, Frutti di Bosco and other classic Italian variegato flavours etc..”. Luigi also makes his own Chocolate mix to make dark Belgian chocolate and for flavours such as Gianduia.
Pasquale works as a manager in the business. He has been trained in all aspects so he is able to help Luigi with making the ice cream and also take responsibility for all other aspects of the business from cooking to ordering and most importantly, making sure that the customers are happy.
Joseph had worked in the business since it opened in 1981 and he was first to take on a managerial role from Giovanni and Christine. Joseph is responsible for all of the food preparation covering everything from fresh local fish & chips to classic pasta dishes and all day breakfasts. He also specialises in homemade scones, cakes and apple crumble and cherry pies. Private functions and themed events are still also catered for. As much as possible, food from local suppliers and producers is used for the restaurant.
Giovanni and Christine are still very much active within the family business, mainly in the restaurant, but are now very happy to leave the day-to-day running of the business to the next generation, who are all very enthusiastic about carrying the business on into another generation and continuing to provide good food, personal service and a warm family orientated atmosphere that continues to delight both regulars and visitors and keeps them coming back time and time again.
Luigi tells me that he has discussed many new ideas for taking the business forward with his brother and his cousin. One of the things they did discuss was a re-fit. Luigi told me “We want to create a totally new look by somehow combining its traditions with a modern feel”. I would definitely say watch this space!!