Business Builders

Happy Holidays

Valentine’s Awareness

Restaurants are often busy on Valentine’s Day, but not always pizzerias. To promote pizza as a Valentine’s dinner, Frank Gazzano merchandises special heart shaped pies, with a braided dough crust! To promote word of mouth before the holiday, Frank asks the mayors of several nearby townships to nominate ten people to receive a free pizza in their name. Then during early February, free heart shaped pies are delivered to these local influencers.

Because the gifts are unexpected, from a VIP (the mayor), and visually unique, these influencers cannot wait to tell their many friends, and so on! Soon, Frank’s phone is ringing with advance orders!

Frank Gazzano, Owner Sorrento Village Restaurant Melrose Park, IL


Celebrating Silly Hat Day

Holidays need not be traditional to keep staffers (especially younger ones) upbeat. So Debbie Gainor encourages employees at her takeout and delivery pizzeria to celebrate such offbeat events as “National Chocolate Chip Day” (guests surprised with a free cookie), “Silly Hat Day” (award for most outrageous employee hat), “National Book Day” (customers given pizzeria logo bookmarks), and “Talk Like a Pirate Day” (Arghhh!).

While not for everyone, celebrating silly holidays helps Debbie’s team avoid monotony and maintain a lighthearted work approach which customers appreciate!

Debbie Gainor, Owner Pizza Zone Cypress, TX


Grownup Egg Hunt

Around Easter, egg hunts are generally held for small children. But as Debbie and Ray Thayers discovered, their nostalgic adult patrons get equally excited about searching for their own colorful plastic eggs filled with chocolates and other prizes!

For grownups only, the event allows moms and dads to briefly relive their own childhood with abandon! While the party is fun for guests, it is also profitable. That is, a $5 entrance fee helps pay for prizes, and attendees typically enjoy ordering plenty of snacks and beverages throughout the event!

Debbie and Ray Thayers, Owners Hugo’s Restaurant and Tavern Montana City, MT


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Recycling cardboard, steel cans, and glass makes restaurateur Scott Nathanson feel good. Cutting monthly dumpster pickups (and disposal fees) in half by keeping recyclables out of the landfill makes his bookkeeper happy too.

Scott could also recycle his wine bottles, but he has found a greener solution. That is, Scott’s team stores emptied bottles in the restaurant basement in their original boxes. Then, whenever ten or twelve cases of used bottles accumulate, Scott posts a free Craig’s List ad offering “free wine bottles” to amateur vintners, first come, first served. Not only do the bottles quickly disappear, Scott’s thoughtfulness is earning him new eco minded friends and customers!

Scott Nathanson, Owner Scotti’s Italian Eatery, Cleveland, OH


Boxes Say “Buy Local”

Shopping in locally owned stores keeps more dollars in the local economy. So Frances Dalisa decided to print a “buy local” message on her pizza boxes, along with 2″ x 3″ ads promoting other Independent neighborhood businesses.

These “Buy Local” box ads represent a win, win, win. Pooling their resources for a shared ad allowed local businesses to target neighborhood residents over an entire year for only a few hundred dollars each. Second, the “buy local” message was warmly received by Frances’ regulars as a show of hometown pride. Third, the combined ad monies covered the printing costs and helped offset box costs, reducing restaurant costs without compromising food quality!

Frances Dalisa, Owner Dalisa’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, North Babylon, NY


Counter Payment Speeds Turns

How a restaurant presents diners with their bill influences the pace of table turns. Rick Lorenzo wants dinner guests at his cozy, family style ristorante to feel unhurried. So during dinner, his servers wait to bring the bill until guests appear ready. Presenting it in a check jacket signals patrons to expect to pay at tableside, at their own pace. But midday guests are often office workers on limited lunch hours. To streamline their visit, lunch guests receive their bill when their meal is served and are invited to pay at the counter. (Omitting a check jacket also reminds them to not expect tableside payment.) Compressing lunchtime “payment transactions” frees time pressed guests to leave their table as soon as they are ready to pay, so they can get right back to work. Vacating tables sooner allows servers to reset them sooner, so more guests can be served during the busy lunch rush.

Rick Lorenzo, Owner Lorenzo’s Ristorante, San Antonio, TX