“I get to set my own hours, I get to do what I want to do,” Staples said. “I created this so I could have the luxury of doing what I want to do.”
The three restaurants — Volt, Lunchbox and Family Meal — were all inspired, at least in part, by Staples’s life as a mom.
Volt was born of postpartum boredom. After staying home with the newborn twins for a few months, Staples was restless and bored. Her husband, Jonathan, jokingly suggested she open a bar in town to get out of the house and meet people.
Lunchbox, which sells sandwiches, salads and soups, evolved from her frustration with trying to pack a healthful lunch for her kids. Her first thought every morning, she said, is “What are they going to eat?”
And Family Meal came about because she thought parents should be able to take their children out for something better than fast food. She said she wanted to create a family-friendly restaurant with the same quality of food that a special occasion restaurant such as Volt would offer. (As an added touch, the restrooms at Family Meal are stocked with diapers, wipes and powder.)
Staples goes into Washington one or two days a week to check on her other restaurants, Range and Graffiato, but otherwise, she doesn’t have to venture farther than the 20 minutes it takes to get to her son Jules’s school in Middletown. Her job is full-time, but it also allows her to go to events at school, or to stay home when one of the kids is sick. She says she can’t imagine trying to juggle motherhood and a traditional
While chefs Bryan Voltaggio and Mike Isabella handle the food at the restaurants, Staples does the behind-the-scenes work of running the businesses. She pays bills and taxes, secures permits and takes care of payroll and human resources. It’s not glamorous, she said, but she’s good at it and she really enjoys it.
“I do all the [stuff] that nobody else wants to do . . .” Staples said. “I used to always joke that Bryan gets the fan letters and I get the bills and the vendors.”
Being a mom of twins, although not the typical training for owning a restaurant, turned out to be really helpful, Staples said.
“That first year when you have your baby is really hard,” she said. “Especially as a first-time mom. You don’t know what you’re doing, whether you’re doing it right or not. . . .
“With the restaurants, it’s the same thing: Am I doing this right? Am I going to screw it up in the first six months and then it will just be like a miserable failure for the rest of its life? It’s so similar to giving birth.”