In the summer of 1979, during orientation for first-year students, a small group boarded a shuttle to the Granite Run Mall.
On the ride back to campus, as he walked down the aisle, a classmate playfully pushed Tony Ciro ’83 into the seat occupied by Diane Corallo ’83. Tony and Diane walked down another aisle at their wedding 10 years later.
In her first year at Cabrini, Diane knew she wanted to be a physician. She enrolled in a medical education program at a local hospital, which provided college students a glimpse into various areas of practice.
One day, Diane visited an operating room where an ophthalmologist was performing surgery. You could say that surgery caught her eye.
She pursued studies in ophthalmology: medical school at Philadelphia’s Hahnemann University Hospital (now part of Drexel University College of Medicine), an internship at Bryn Mawr Hospital, and finally, a residency at the University of Rochester.
The couple moved to Lancaster in 1991, where Diane built a successful career as an ophthalmologist. When she became pregnant with their first daughter, Lila, she and Tony agreed that he would stay home to raise the children.
Lila is now 18, and son Tony Jr. is 15. With the children in their teens, Tony gave thought to venturing out in the business world. He had memories of gathering around the table and sharing meals with his family as a boy, and wanted to recreate that ritual for others.
“Being born in Italy and raised by Italians, food was the fabric of our family,” Tony says. He wanted to bring his vision to the community—one that focused on delicious food and a warm sense of family. Ciro’s Italian Bistro, a 124-seat restaurant, opened in Lancaster in 2009 with Tony at the helm.
Tony’s love of food followed him to Cabrini. As an undergraduate, he managed the Wigwam, the student café then in the basement of Founder’s Hall. He fondly remembers setting up in the Mansion kitchen and whipping up lasagna for the nuns.
“I started to tinker around with the idea of serving while I was at Cabrini,” Tony says. “There was a feeling of family at the College, too, which reinforced what I’d grown up around.”
Diane admits that since the bistro opened, staying in sync as a family has been a challenge. Both Tony and Diane stress that their family is close-knit, and that they genuinely enjoy spending time together—something that has been more difficult since Tony opened the restaurant.
“The first year [the restaurant opened] was crazy and stressful,” Diane says. “But now we’ve settled into a new pace.” Because of Tony’s long hours, he and Diane keep the lines of communication open, even when it’s impossible to talk on the phone. “Thank God for texting!” Diane says.
“I’ve made it my mission to buck the trend and have a restaurant and a life,” says Tony. “The battle between making my family my top priority and my responsibility to the restaurant forces us to be creative and flexible as a family.”
Diane spends three days a week at her office seeing patients, and one day per week in surgery. She and Tony adjusted their schedules so that neither is scheduled to work on Wednesdays. Ciro’s is closed Mondays, giving Tony another break. And the kids work at the restaurant on weekends. Tony Jr. is a busboy, and Lila scoops creamy gelato and crafts cappuccinos. In addition to allowing them more time with their dad, logging hours at the restaurant “gives them an idea of what it’s like to run a fast-paced business,” Diane says.
Despite their different roles, Tony and Diane have woven into their professions their love of people. Tony visits tables in the restaurant and works hard to develop and maintain relationships, a practice that he says has earned the bistro many repeat customers. Diane says that her favorite aspect of heading her own practice is developing relationships with patients, some of whom she’s known for 20 years.
“I get to watch them grow up,” Diane says. “I get to know their families, which is the best part of what I do.”
Diane says that Cabrini’s “education of the heart” helped prepare her for the nurturing aspect of her profession.
“Cabrini gave me a strong liberal arts education,” Diane says. “Liberal arts makes you a well-rounded individual.” And that certainly helps balance the family, with both parents earning a living in very different ways.
Cabrini’s core values also align with the Ciros’ personal values. “As a family, we’re very community-minded,” Diane says.
This year, Diane and Lila joined other alumni, faculty, and students on Cabrini’s annual service trip to Guatemala during spring break. Accompanied by Jerry Zurek, Ph.D., chair of the communication department and professor of English and communication, and Raquel Green, Ph.D., assistant professor of romance languages, they volunteered in the community through the San Lucas Mission and lived in solidarity with the locals.
Diane Corallo ’83 and her daughter Lila participate in a road-building project during Cabrini’s service trip to Guatemala.
If you happen to find yourself in Lancaster, Tony and Diane will welcome you to Ciro’s Bistro with open arms and plates heaped high with Italian delights. In fact, they’ll treat you like family.