KEY IDEA: Thinking Outside of the Box
At age 18, Joe Tuzzio began running his family’s Long Branch, NJ, restaurant, Tuzzio’s Italian Cuisine for 50 straight years. Upon his well-deserved retirement at 68, Joe called La Trattoria to share some of his best business-building ideas with his fellow Independents.
KEY IDEA – Never wait for business to come to you. When Joe’s dad fell ill and young Joe originally stepped in to run the business, he was impatient to build sales. Joe discovered that offsite catering made profitable use of the kitchen outside of busy dinner hours by allowing most pre-prep to happen early in the day.
KEY IDEA – Think outside the daypart. Joe learned that pharmaceutical reps sometimes provide breakfast to medical offices while doctors listen to their sales presentations. So Joe began working closely with local reps to create flavorful breakfasts while DEPENDABLY meeting their precise deadlines for each delivery. As doctor offices began requesting Joe’s breakfasts, his lunchtime office orders also began to grow.
KEY IDEA – Remove operational bottlenecks. For holiday catering, Joe would pre-cook over 100 Thanksgiving turkeys, 32 at a time (16 per deck over two pizza ovens). To presell and
distribute 600 family dinners on Christmas Eve, Joe regularly rented a 55’ refrigerator trailer for the parking lot. Then he and his team sequentially prepared and pre-loaded the various meal components for days in advance.
KEY IDEA – Earn customers one at a time. For his restaurant regulars, Joe worked to further earn their loyalty by learning and accommodating their dietary preferences. Early on, Joe began offering a good quality gluten free pasta, crafted low fat meals for those wanting them, and worked to perfect a meatless Bolognese from ground veggie burger.
KEY IDEA – Create profitable seasonal specials. When seasonal eggplant became plentiful (and exceptionally reasonable), Joe would fry up large batches of eggplant cutlets. He then skewered them vertically with layers of roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil to create visually stunning “eggplant tower” appetizers.
Davide Lubrano and Vinny Gallagher, Co-Owners