Two local business owners are bringing their culinary dream full circle, thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit and a Berkeley College education.
Alumnae Vanessa Guzman, Class of 2022, and Danielle O’Neill, Class of 2013, both of Moonachie cut the ribbon to open D’s Cozy Kitchen at Berkeley College’s Woodland Park Café on Sept. 5, 2023. The business, founded in 2021, specializes in Italian and Puerto Rican cuisine and catering, and promises to bring “warmth and comfort to every meal.”
Guzman and O’Neill credit their success to their commitment to fresh ingredients, customer service – and each other. The couple, who met at Berkeley College, began dating in 2019, and recently became engaged.
“Danielle and I truly are a power couple in the kitchen. We create menus based on what we like to eat,” Guzman said. “The act of service is what makes us strive to keep providing everyone with the best experience possible.”
They also credit their alma mater, Berkeley College, for supporting their journey. O’Neill, who holds an associate degree in business administration – management, started her career in the food industry at a Berkeley College Career Fair, while Guzman’s bachelor’s degree in graphic design allowed her to create the logo and marketing materials for D’s Cozy Kitchen.
“We love you, Berkeley College,” O’Neill said during the business’s Grand Opening reception. “The love we have for you goes way beyond a contract, way beyond a storefront. Why did we choose Berkeley College? Because you believed in us. You supported us. You were there for us. We want to be with you the entire way. It’s going to be a fantastic adventure.”
O’Neill said D’s Cozy Kitchen hopes to expand the business in the future, while remaining consistent in its mission and its focus on customer feedback. The entrepreneurs also offer catering services and have had the opportunity to connect with the Woodland Park community when Berkeley College welcomed the Alfred H. Baumann Free Public Library to a residence on campus earlier this year.
“I am excited to have two of our Berkeley College alumni join the Woodland Park campus as an on-campus eatery and catering option for our students, faculty, and staff,” LaTysha Gaines, campus operating officer, Berkeley College in Woodland Park said. “It is awesome for all to witness their Berkeley College degrees in action. They are more than just an eatery on campus. Their stellar customer service and robust cuisine enhance the Berkeley College experience.”
Guzman encouraged aspiring business owners to “trust the process” and surround themselves with motivation and support.
“Believe in yourself,” she said. “There will be times when you might want to throw in the towel – don’t! All the ups and downs will come with either rewards or a learning curve to grow from. You will never know the end result if you don’t follow through.”