Janet Z. Capua
Co-owner and head chef Janet Z. Capua’s love for good food, family and friends dates back to her childhood. At age 9, the Chicago native from a close-knit Italian-American family was cooking for her family. She learned this art from her father, John Zito, for whom Z’s Cafe is named.
Although she went on to marry, raise a family and work as a dental hygienist for over 40 years, Janet always wanted to cook for family and friends fulltime. Her daughter and son, Maria and Carlo, knew that, so they encouraged her to follow her passion.
It is no surprise that after leaving her official job, she was quick to go back to her first love, cooking! The career change came just in time, because at age 63, she is still energetic enough to take on the business of a restaurant. But Janet didn’t simply go into the café business; she started small.
An opportunity to cook for 100 international student visitors on less than 24-hour notice spurred her entrepreneurial zeal. She cooked all night, packed the food in her car and drove to the location in time to serve the students. This feat reinforced the belief that professional cooking was in her future.
In between, Janet continues to expand her horizon by enrolling in culinary classes in Napa Valley, California, and Tuscany, Italy. The story, albeit, inspirational, would have ended here.
But what makes Janet Capua and Z’s Café special is her collaboration with Fort Worth-based Samaritan House, a nonprofit organization. Samaritan House provides permanent and temporary housing for low-income/homeless individuals with special needs, namely HIV and AIDS.
Z’s Café hires exclusively from Samaritan House, providing training and employment for their new (and oftentimes, green) employees. This partnership, coupled with great food (especially the world famous chicken salad) and a warm atmosphere where customers are treated like family, has endeared Z’s Café to Fort Worth residents. No wonder, 2+ years later, it is still getting rave reviews from patrons, media, and an occasional celebrity!
Pictured below, Janet Z. with Food Network celebrity chefs Paula Deen and Sandra Lee at the 2009 South Beach Wine & Food Festaival.
Co-owner/GM Carlo Capua is the second half of Z’s Café. Carlo ensures the bills are paid, the business stays active in the community, and that all the food consistently tastes good (he calls it "quality control.")
A marketing graduate of Texas Christian University, Carlo was restless upon graduation. He loves adventure! To satisfy his restive nature, he packed up and moved to Nagaoka, Japan, where he taught English (and discovered sushi and sake) for 4 years. From there, he trekked down to Toluca, Mexico to continue his passion for teaching, discovering cultures, and learning languages.
Carlo is as passionate about people as his mother Janet. In 2001 he established the Niigata Papua New Guinea Association to support interpersonal and intercultural exchange between Japan and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Through this organization, he led a team to raise money to build schools, teachers' houses, and establish scholarships for poor students in PNG. He continues to be involved in creating global partnerships as chair of the Swaziland, Africa committee through Fort Worth Sister Cities International.
Eventually, Carlo decided it was time for him to return home. Together with his sister, Maria, they encouraged Janet Z. to turn her love of cooking into a career - Z's Café was born.
In his spare time, Carlo is a sought after speaker, having given hundreds of presentations on social entrepreneurship and international culture, citing humorous personal experiences and anecdotes from abroad. He speaks fluent Japanese and Spanish, enjoys playing music, and is accomplished endurance athlete, having completed 14 full marathons and an Ironman Triathlon.