Paige Gould arrived at Tipo at noon on a recent Wednesday, ready to go over a new menu design with the staff and dig into a little paperwork.

But first things first: Cradling her 10-week-old daughter, Jocelyn, in one arm, she eased into a chair at the bar so she could breastfeed the baby. “I’ve got to change her diaper, too,” she said.

Gould is director of operations at Tipo and Central Provisions in Portland, which she co-owns with her husband, chef Chris Gould, who on this day is at home on a day off with Jocelyn’s big sister, Lucy, who turns 2 this month. Paige Gould is technically on maternity leave, but that doesn’t means she’s stopped working.

“We’ve had four babies in three years,” Gould said, “because the restaurants are our babies.”

The Goulds are one of many young couples in Portland’s restaurant industry who have started a family at the same time they launch and run restaurants in the hottest market in the state. Working in the restaurant business, with its long hours, odd schedules and loads of stress, is difficult enough for any parent. It’s even harder when both parents are in the business. How do they do it?

Restaurant parents say it can be very difficult, but they find ways to juggle changing diapers with changing menus. They swap schedules, hire baby sitters and nannies, and rely on family and employees for support.


“We used to joke that all of us restaurant folks should open a day care center to help each other out,” said Stella Hernandez, whose 10-year-old son, Antonio, has grown up in his parents’ businesses, Bar Lola and Lolita. “There’s no day care that’s open restaurant hours.”

The day before heading to the hospital for a C-section, Briana Volk got on the phone to talk about how she and her husband have handled life with their 3-year-old daughter, Oona, and the pregnancy that was about to deliver their newborn son, Rocky.

Volk and her husband are launching a new restaurant, Little Giant, this spring on the West End, next to a grocery they opened a few months ago. They also own The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club cocktail bar in the Old Port, which had been open just six months when Oona was born.

The day Oona came home from the hospital, her father had to cover a shift when a staffer didn’t show up.

“It would have been nice to hang out at home a couple of days and have some help, but we also knew what we signed up for,” Briana Volk said. “This time, my Mom flew out a few days ago.”



Volk jokes that her maternity leave consists of checking email once a day instead of once an hour. She also won’t take meetings in person for two weeks. The couple tries not to schedule meetings at the same time.

“The beauty of newborns is they can go where you go,” she said. “(Oona) came with us everywhere, and she still does for the most part.”

Restaurant offspring spend a good amount of time in their parents’ workplaces. But don’t feel too sorry for them. If you think regular customers get special treatment, consider the life of chef/restaurateur babies. Let’s just say there’s lots of cooing, and it’s not only from the children. Smitten staff (and sometimes customers) love to spoil them.

Paige Gould, holding her daughter Jocelyn, turns around to talk with Tipo bar manager Jaren Rivas. Gould is co-owner of Tipo and Central Provisions with her husband, Chris.

At Bar Lola, Antonio Hernandez ate Cheerios at the bar when he was a baby, and guests brought him birthday gifts.

Finn and Seamus Corry, 7- and 10-year-old sons of Steve and Michelle Corry, sometimes hang out in their parents’ restaurants, Five Fifty-five and Petite Jacqueline. While they color, play games and draw comics, the staff feeds them cookies, ice cream, cheese and oysters.

When Jackson Walker, 7, visits Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, another hot Maine restaurant town, where his father is executive chef and his mother is general manager, he grabs a snack from the kitchen and goes for a walk on the resort’s pastoral grounds. In the summer, he picks strawberries.


Isabella Sansonetti, 3, likes to blow out the candles on the tables at Piccolo, the Italian restaurant in the Old Port owned by her parents Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez. When she was teething, she soothed her gums by chewing on a spring-dug parsnip from Stonecipher Farm.

And whenever the cooks’ aprons get too dirty, she scolds them: “Messy! Messy!”

Cute stories aside, parents know that having their kids at work all the time is not ideal. But finding quality family time can be challenging – and, for a new mom especially, the lack of it can be painful.

Life was much easier for Austin Miller and Hana Tamaki when their only baby was Mami, their Japanese food truck. When 3-year-old daughter Keida came along, they found ways to take care of both her needs and the business’. Then the couple decided to open a restaurant in Portland. They signed the lease in January, and Tamaki had their second child, a son named Wolf, that same month.

“We would bring both of them in and renovate while they were hanging out,” Tamaki said. “We were here every single day. We could only be here for a certain amount of time before one of them was so fussy.”

Before Wolf was born, the couple hired a nanny for the summer months, and in the winter Tamaki would get up early to do prep work for the food truck and to care for her daughter. Since they’ve opened the restaurant, both parents need to work during the day. Tamaki gets to the restaurant early, leaving the children with their nanny, and tries to finish work by 4 or 4:30 p.m.


“I miss my kids so much, especially my newborn,” she said. “With my daughter, I got to spend most of her first year with her, every single day almost, and I want to do the same with my son.”

Tamaki hopes things will improve after the staff is completely trained, and they hire more people.


Isabella Sansonetti was just a couple of weeks old when Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez signed the lease for Piccolo, “and she’s pretty much grown up in the restaurant,” Sansonetti said.

Now the couple is renovating their new West End restaurant, Chaval, while juggling life with their toddler.

“It’s hard, but it’s doable, especially if you have a good support system,” Lopez said.


Lopez’s mother came to Portland to help when Isabella was born, followed by her grandmother. After family left, they hired a nanny.

Now that Isabella is in preschool from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., the family has settled into a routine. They’re up at 6:30 or 7 a.m. and have breakfast together. Isabella’s nanny picks her up from school. If Sansonetti and Lopez can get away in the afternoon, they’ll take Isabella for ice cream or to the park. Her nanny stays with her until 10:30 p.m.

When it comes to nannies, Sansonetti and Lopez hit the jackpot: Isabella’s nanny is the mother of their chef de cuisine – so she understands restaurant life – and a retired emergency room nurse.

On weekends, one parent arrives at the restaurant at 10 a.m., the other at 1 p.m., so at least one of them can spend the morning with their daughter. They take turns attending any school activities that involve parents, and they swap off closing the restaurant at night.

Paige Gould, holding Jocelyn, meets with the management staff at Tipo, from left, Robyn Smith, general manager, Sarabeth Gabrielson, sous chef, Mike Smith, executive chef, and Jaren Rivas, bar manager.

After Jocelyn has been fed and changed, Paige Gould moves to the communal table at Tipo to show the staff the new menu designs, asking their opinions on the wording, capitalization and other details. The baby is happy; she starts making loud, throaty noises, and when bar manager Jaren Rivas imitates her, everyone laughs.

“Oh, you’ve got a lot to say today, huh?” Gould murmurs gently to her daughter.


They discuss a pending staff hire and the search for a new bartender, occasionally interrupting their conversation to say something in baby talk. Robyn Smith, the manager, is explaining a feature of the restaurant’s website when the baby smiles at her and suddenly her voice goes up an octave: “Look at you!”

Since having children, Gould has switched her role from general manager to director of operations. Instead of working the floor, baby Lucy in tow, she now handles bookkeeping and payroll, often working from home. She holds managers’ meetings every other Friday.

“I was trying to do too much, and there were people I had in management positions who were fully capable of doing what I was doing,” she said.

It’s more of a 9 to 5 job now, she said, “and while I’m on maternity leave it’s a ‘when the children are sleeping’ job.”

When her maternity leave is over, the children will go to day care.

As for her chef husband, he has stepped back from working the line every night.


“It doesn’t mean he’s not on the line, it’s just if he’s working a lot, he misses the girls, and if he’s at home a lot he misses the restaurant,” Gould said.

As restaurant kids get older, the challenges don’t go away. They’re just different. Older children have school vacations, after-school activities and entire summers off – the busiest time for Maine restaurants.

Justin Walker, executive chef at Earth at Hidden Pond, and his wife, Earth manager Danielle Walker, made it through the difficult early years juggling schedules so they could be with their son, Jackson. But Walker still worries about missing birthday parties and soccer camps.

“I love what we do, and I don’t want to change what we do,” he said. “But I want to be there for baseball games.”


The Corrys agree that, in a lot of ways, things were easier when their sons were babies. Now, Michelle Corry said, “You’re putting them on the bus and not seeing them until the next morning.”


The Corrys have taken two major steps in the interest of family time. Three years running, they took their boys out of school for six weeks so they could travel. They’ve been to Paris twice and Ireland once. The boys take schoolwork with them and have to complete it every morning, before they can do anything else. There are visits to museums, and built-in history and language lessons.

The second major change? Last fall, Steve Corry handed Five Fifty-Five’s kitchen over to his staff and became a stay-at-home dad. He says it’s been “quite a transition” from giving orders in a professional kitchen to managing homework and bedtime.

“I tried to do both to some degree for a stretch, and that was virtually impossible,” he said. “The kids were spending a lot of time at the restaurants, but we didn’t see them. I thought ‘I can’t really let that happen.’ It’s too important to me and to them.”

Initially, the shift was temporary, precipitated by the nanny leaving to have her own baby.

Corry says he misses the kitchen and will return someday, but “I love the time with my kids.”

This summer may bring some firsts for the family. If Michelle can find the time, they’ll visit Bar Harbor, Moosehead Lake, and other places in Maine they’ve never been to before because they’re always working. Corry wants to grab this family time while he still can.

“There will come that time when it won’t be cool to hang out with Dad anymore,” he said, “and they just want to be with their friends.”

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