To many in our small town, Raffaele will long be remembered as the face of the Dienger Trading Co. An encounter with him—that is, his Italian accent, striking blue eyes, and peaceful personality—has a way of inviting you to be right at home.

During the opening days of the Dienger, I simply enjoyed listening to him speak. When the opportunity to showcase my art on their walls came about, he was helpful and sincerely interested in my work and success. Throughout all my experience with them, Raffaele’s impression was a big reason for my draw to that place.

Prior to my part-time employment (as barista) throughout 2018, I observed his efficiency on the floor and admired his ability to connect with people. My “interview” with him and the head chef was surprisingly brief and to the point, “Welcome! How many hours can you work?”

What I soon discovered, on the other side of the counter, was Raffaele to be as genuine a good and whole person as he appeared to be in public. His ability to play/appreciate music and his deep passion for sommelier work certainly shined through, too. Amidst the intensity that is part of food service, and sometimes-hostile work environment, his proficiency and empathetic ways affected everyone for good. When it comes down to it, he’s just an enjoyable person to know.

Raffaele, his dear wife, and their precious son left Boerne in December 2018, to return home to Italy. But really, Raffaele is at home wherever he is. It’s this quality in him that inspired me to create his portrait as The Face of the Dienger.

On November 13, 2018, Raffaele Appreciation Day was held at The Dienger Trading Co. This picture was taken by Dahlia Martini right after I unveiled Raffaele’s portrait The Face of the Dienger | oil on linen • 16”x20” | private collection

Visiting the Dienger isn’t quite the same for me these days, but I’m glad I can stay in touch with my friends. And you can too! Visit Martini & Company.