“My grandfather started this restaurant in 1959,” says Kiauna Floyd with justifiable pride. “It was then called The Pizza House. But my grandfather wanted to be at the top of the listings in the Yellow Pages, so he changed the name to Amalfi’s, in honor of his visit to the Amalfi Coast of Italy.”
Sixty-two years later, Amalfi’s Italian Restaurant remains a cornerstone of the NE Fremont community in Portland, and Floyd is now the third-generation owner. A Black woman with a family of her own, Floyd says she grew up in the restaurant, starting as a dishwasher.
Floyd recently learned that Amalfi’s is one of eight Black-owned businesses in Portland to receive a Comcast RISE award, a program launched in October to aid BIPOC-owned small businesses hit hard by the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Margins are thinner than ever,” says Floyd. As a result of COVID restrictions, she’s had to lay off 75% of her staff, and she reports that sales are 40% of usual. She says the hospitality industry has been thrown a huge curveball by the pandemic. But Floyd tries to remain optimistic. “Mother always taught us to count our blessings and remember that it could always be worse.”
During the summer, Floyd invested in a huge, heated tent and live music. “It brought me so much joy to see friends and family reunite over our food,” Floyd recalls. But the winter and tightening restrictions on social gatherings took their toll. Floyd has pivoted again, and today, pizzas, calzones, and lasagnas are take-out only, and she’s added a “Mercado” to offer pastas and pre-made salads, specialty items and gifts.
Being a Black business owner, Floyd is keenly aware that she must be a great reflection of her Black community. “It’s all about excellence,” she says. “I took a well-lit torch that was passed from my grandfather, to my father, to me. I’m doing my part to keep it shining bright.”
And the future looks bright for keeping Amalfi’s in the Floyd family. Floyd’s 11-year old daughter, Ava Lane, “has restaurant in her blood,” says her mom with pride. “She’s already punching in orders and helping with stock and inventory.”
As for the assistance Amalfi’s will receive from Comcast RISE, Floyd says, “It couldn’t be more timely. Bringing more exposure to our small business will be incredible.”