Dante DiCicco poses in his restaurant next to a childhood photo of him and his siblings in the DiCicco family hometown in Italy. Photos contributed
Written by Ben Hensley
Local restaurant owner and former Snapchat employee Dante DiCicco has launched a fintech service aimed at streamlining data and payments for small, locally owned restaurants in the Fresno area and around the country.
DiCicco, whose grandfather opened the original DiCicco’s Italian restaurant in Fresno in 1956, graduated from Stanford in 2011 and previously worked in investment banking in New York prior to joining the Snapchat team as a corporate strategist in 2015.
DiCicco left Snapchat in December 2021 to found his own company, Zitti. The company raised an initial $4 million ahead of its official launch last week.
“The founding of Zitti was really a convergence of my professional trajectories,” DiCicco said. “I have this career in technology, and then, totally separately I have my family, who have deep roots in the restaurant business.”
DiCicco recently opened his own DiCicco’s restaurant at 6407 E. Shields Ave. near Armstrong Avenue. His entire life, he has witnessed the inequity between family-owned local restaurants and large corporate chain restaurants.
“We are paying more for the exact same food products as they are, and the terms we have to pay our food distributors are shorter,” DiCicco said. “I felt so passionate about solving this problem that I left my post at Snap to start Zitti.”
Zitti aims to bring three new opportunities to the table for family-owned restaurants.
The first is the ability to streamline payments. DiCicco explained that his restaurant itself uses a dozen different distributors — all expecting payment on different days.
“We are essentially streamlining that by allowing a restaurant to essentially upload all of their invoices from every distributor onto our platform; they use us to pay out everybody, so essentially, we are the payment center for them,” DiCicco said.
Zitti will also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help notify owners of their profit and consumption costs.
“They can literally be at home on the couch with their iPad and they’ll know exactly what their food costs are,” DiCicco said.
This is a huge step up from the typical “paper and pen” style accounting and bookkeeping that many family-owned restaurants still employ, he said.
It also aims to give users the opportunity to open credit lines with Zitti directly, allowing them to prolong the amount of time they have to pay distributors.
According to DiCicco, credit lines will become available after users have been with Zitti for several months.
Zitti’s primary customer base focuses on restaurant companies ranging in size from one location to several hundred, noting that single-location family-owned restaurants and multi-location family-owned restaurants suffer from very similar issues.
“The independent restaurant is the one that could benefit from Zitti most immediately,” DiCicco said, adding that the ability to streamline financial requirements will hopefully bring the small-sized and medium-sized restaurant industries closer together in terms of financial equity.
Since a January beta launch, Zitti is currently utilized by more than 20 restaurants in Fresno, Los Angeles and Chicago, with plans in the works for New York City — and hopes to expand throughout the country soon.
“Our platform truly is the first of its kind in the food tech space,” DiCicco said. “When you add the fact that we’re a platform built by restaurateurs for restaurateurs, it makes the value proposition very compelling.”