4/23/2008 — 

MR. REED: Mr. President, this week we celebrate the 45th annual Small Business Week organized by the U.S. Small Business Administration. I would like to recognize the accomplishments of a small business owner who is a leader in his field and a contributor to Rhode Island's vital hospitality and tourism industry.

Today, the SBA will present the 2008 National Jeffrey H. Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year award to Robert Antignano of Angelo's Civita Farnese in Providence. This national award, which will go to a Rhode Islander for the first time, honors a family owned and operated business that has passed from one generation to another.

Angelo's Restaurant opened in 1924 and has become a landmark on Providence's Federal Hill as the state's longest operating family-owned restaurant. The founder and namesake of the restaurant, Angelo Mastrodicasa, envisioned a place where the working people of the neighborhood could find good food at affordable prices. Mr. Antignano, who is the third generation of his family to run the restaurant, has continued to pursue this mission with great success. Since assuming ownership of Angelo's in 1988, Mr. Antignano has tripled the number of employees and increased revenues by more than 300 percent.

From Hollywood stars, New England sports legends, and national political figures to the family who comes in for Sunday dinner, Angelo's is the backdrop for so many memorable occasions. This restaurant is more than a place to eat; it is a slice of Americana where people from all walks of life sit elbow to elbow at the same white marble tables their grandparents and other family members may have shared over the years. The Butland award recognizes Angelo's legacy and its prominent place in our hearts.

I am proud of Mr. Antignano, his hard-working, committed staff, and all small business owners in Rhode Island, who together form an essential part of Rhode Island's economy. A ccording to the SBA, small businesses comprise 96 percent of all businesses in the state. Time and again, small businesses, by virtue of their size, have proven their ability to be innovative and flexible, meeting emerging needs for new products and services and improving on those that already exist.

Once again, I congratulate Mr. Antignano and his family on their success and wish them many more generations of good customers, food, and spirits.