Born and raised 2 minutes from the heart and soul of Philadelphia, Dina Lauro and her Father Joe Lauro certainly know a good cheesesteak when they taste one.
Dina and Joe grew up eating Philly's and Hoagies not only because of where they lived but Dina's Grandfather, Joe Sr. owned his own steak and hoagie shop before Dina was born. Joe Sr. learned his craft by working for Jim's Steaks for several years and then opened his own in the 1960's called Joe's Snack Bar.
Dina's father, Joe Jr. worked in the family business for a while making cheesesteaks and hoagies not knowing what the future held and how one day he would be a very valuable resource for a unique vegan deli with his daughter.
As the years went on Joe Jr. juggled two careers. One during the day for Pennsylvania Dept of Transportation as a highway supervisor and the other at night as a musician in a band for many of the popular bars in Philadelphia and South Jersey such as the Par Four, Ocean Drive, Jacks Place and the White Briar.
Dina went off to Penn State University, lived in San Diego, CA for a year, moved to Charleston SC for two years and then moved back home to Pennsylvania in 2000. Dina and Joe didn't spend a lot of time together and didn't really get to know each other as well as Dina wanted. Since her parents divorced when Dina was 8 yrs old she didn't get to see her Dad often and share in each others lives.
Dina struggled with finding herself and what she wanted to do with her life. She knew she had greatness in her but didn't know how to apply it to anything she was passionate about. One day, as she was working on her sixth year in an industry and job that didn't excite her, she decided to again for the millionth time ask herself... "what am I passionate about"? Finally the answer(s) were loud and clear. Healthy Food and Animals. Dina adores animals but did not see how she could make a nice living without the proper education. So... she decided to enroll in Culinary School and become a Chef. In 2010, Dina got accepted to The Natural Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts in NY. She graduated in one year and then went on to do her internship at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, FL. This was where a whole new world opened up for her.
Dina LOVES feeling healthy and the empowerment she feels when she takes responsibility for her own health. She was immediately drawn to Hippocrates because its' an education on how to live a healthy lifestyle mainly through nutrition, a raw food diet. She worked in their kitchen for a few months and then enrolled in their 9 wk Health Educator Program learning all about how to keep the body's immune system strong and detoxifying. Dina was finally happy as she was living a life that had value to her. She had been vegetarian/vegan for 20 some years and did not have to hear the question, "where do you get your protein" anymore. These people got it and taught her about the benefits of a plant based diet.
She decided to reside in West Palm and became a private chef for someone that wanted her to make what she was learning. In the process Dina created a healthy cookie. One that would come to be known as Chunkie Dunkies. In 2011, Dina launched her 1st business, Chunkie Dunkies, which was and is Raw, Vegan Desserts such as cookies and brownies made from whole nuts, NOT flour.
She began marketing her products at the local Green Markets and within 2 months landed her first retail store. From 2012 until now her and her current business partner, Brian Hiltebeitel managed to get Chunkie Dunkies sold in over 200 locations including Wholefoods and Wegmans. At the end of 2016 Dina & Brian began to lose their enthusiasm for that particular industry and Dina was having doubts. Her passion was still healthy food but she didn't know what move to make and how she wanted to make a living.
Her Dad, Joe, retired and living in Ft Myers, was also having an urge to do something more. Joe had been vegan for over 34 yrs and really wanted to do something with plant based food. As Dina and her Dad began to throw ideas around and an opportunity came in the form of a contest. The City of West Palm Beach wanted to bring small businesses together on Clematis Street and were offering them a small space for a lower rent. Dina not having anything but Chunkie Dunkies to apply with, began filling out the paperwork. At that same time Joe was telling Dina how he makes his own cheesesteaks using tofu. Dina didn't really eat tofu (because she wasn't into soy) but thought it was a neat idea. In fact Joe convinced Dina that this could be something they could do together, which was make vegan cheesesteaks.
The ideas were flying and there was a new excitement in the air. Joe was even talking about moving to West Palm so they could really build this business together. Dina was about to finalize the contest paperwork but now as a Vegan Deli. Then... Joe got cold feet! He decided he didn't want to work too much. He liked his retirement and told Dina its not working for him. Dina was kinda down and not sure what to do and decides to let the opportunity go. She could not start another business with Brian and did not want to do it by herself. And then one morning.... she distinctly remembers... her Dad calls and says... "Let's go for it"!! She said "really" and he said "yes"!
That summer of 2018 Joe Lauro moved to West Palm Beach and bought a house right in Dina's neighborhood. She was so happy. She finally got to be with her Dad after all those years of feeling such a void in their relationship. To see him everyday and build a business together that was in both of their hearts was a dream come true.
And so... you now have Dina's Vegan Deli & Desserts. Their cheesesteaks are 100% Authentic and made IN-HOUSE from wheat grain protein and each sandwich contains over 30 + grams of protein.
Dina and her Father could not be more proud of the Philadelphia Foods they have recreated to be 100% Plant Based and Cruelty Free. You will NOT be disappointed as Dina has very high standards when it come to flavor, textures, and cleaniness.
Come say Hi to us at Dina's and know that you are eating food that radiates Love and Happiness. And... a little bad ass flavor :)