Oh my God, this is like my baby. This is my world. I love the fact that we built something from nothing. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the fact that we named them after our kids, but I love that more than anything because it brings the whole family together. I take everything about this place personally – this is who I am, this is what we do. And the mentality building these restaurants was that we are going to build something that’s going to be what we want to see if we went somewhere. And that’s from the food, to the atmosphere, to the service, to the way that people are treated, everything else. So this is my world, this is my world. [laughs]....You do your best, you work really hard, you integrate yourself into the society in the best way possible. And I feel like for a first generation immigrant, America does have a lot of opportunities, a lot of venues to use and resources to integrate yourself. And then, do more. I think it’s the way that this country was built by immigrants makes it easier for immigrants and generations to come to be part of this community, this society, and to continue to build this country.
Oriola Koci was born in Tirana, Albania in 1977. Oriola and her family immigrated to Worcester when she was 18 years old on a diversity lottery visa won by her mother. She attended Assumption College for her undergraduate studies and Clark University for her master’s degree. Oriola is a very hard worker who overcame the English barrier when she immigrated to the United States. She did this by working hard and integrating herself into the society. Her friends also helped her in this process since some of them attended Clark’s ESL program. She and her husband now own two restaurants in Worcester, Livia’s Dish and Altea’s Eatery, which are named after their children. Oriola has gone from being a dietary aide, to an owner of two successful restaurants. In this interview, Oriola reflects upon the differences between Albanian culture and American culture. She also shares how her family is a really good support system. She then discusses how her work ethic taught her to be disciplined and how to balance work life and personal life. Oriola touches upon how she has seen the Worcester community grow across the years, and how she thinks improvements in the train system will make a difference in the community. Lastly, she mentions her involvement with the Worcester Airport Committee and the Webster Square Association.