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Living the American Dream

The American Dream. Many have made it while others have failed, but who would have thought a young boy and his brothers, born in Argentina, could make such a name for themselves in America?

John Liberatore became a man of success.

His parents were born in Italy and moved to Argentina after World War II. John, along with his three brothers, Vitalo, Dante and Pino, were born in Argentina and then in 1974, their family moved to the United States. Shortly thereafter, John and his brother, Pino, got jobs in Little Italy.

Their dream began.

They started out as dishwashers, then became bus boys and waiters and even worked in the kitchen for some time. Over the next 12 years, the two boys developed a love for working in restaurants. However, John decided to go to Essex Community College for two years, and majored in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

After college, the two brothers thought about starting a business together, but they weren’t sure what to open. The decision turned out to be an easy one.

“We picked a restaurant because that’s what we liked and that’s what we knew,” John said. “Working in Little Italy interested us into doing this. It was something we were comfortable with because that’s what we did.”

What a decision it turned out to be.

John and Pino opened their first restaurant, Liberatore’s, in Eldersburg in 1988. Even though it was a small location, opening day was quite large. There was a line out the door the first day, and looking back on it, it was an indication of what was to come.

Liberatore’s became so busy John quickly realized it was time to expand. Over the next few years the brothers were able to open restaurants in different areas of Maryland. Realizing the amount of work and responsibility that came along with owning multiple restaurants, John and Pino had their brothers join them as partners when the new restaurants opened. Later on, their cousin, Michael Galasso, became a partner as well.

“Business was so good that we wanted to share it with our family members,” John said.

Business certainly was good. With restaurants in Eldersburg, Westminster, Owings Mills, Timonium and most recently Perry Hall, the Liberatore brothers were thankful for their success.

However, picking the locations for their restaurants wasn’t an easy task, even with the help of their customers.

“Customers pretty much suggested to us ‘why don’t you guys open up here or there,’” John said. “We just try to go to locations where we know our concept will work. There are a lot of great areas, but you have to be careful that your concept works because it doesn’t work every where, it really depends on what you do.”

Whatever they are doing, it’s working.

John is the owner of the Timonium location and he works hard to keep his customers happy.

He says, “Customer’s are smarter. They know food more. They know what they want and they know what they expect. They are just more intelligent about the food. If they don’t like something they are going to tell you. They’re not going to just settle for a plate of spaghetti and meatballs if it doesn’t taste right.”

John says it’s always flattering to hear the customers thank him when they leave. He says it feels good when they tell him he did a good job, it makes him want to keep working. But even with all the praise and success, John is still the same guy he was back when he was a waiter. Everyone in his neighborhood knows he’s the one of the owners of Liberatore’s, but when he’s not working, he’s just like everyone else.

However, he does get to meet a lot of people because of his last name. Robert Ehrlich, Peter Angelos and Art Modell have all been in his restaurant, but the best part of the job for John is getting to know his customers.

“We are very people friendly. We have a clientele that is great to us. We know everybody by name, and they’re regulars. They’ve been coming here since the first day we opened and we’ve been open in Timonium for 13 years,” John said.

With six restaurants now open, John Liberatore and his brothers are a success. Their American Dream came true, even if it wasn’t planned. Opening a business is hard for anyone, but John proved that taking care of his customers and picking good locations are the keys to any restaurant's success. That and of course his passion for excellence.

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