At Jasper’s Ristorante, four generations of the Mirabile (Mee-rah-bee-lay) family have satisfied Kansas City, MO, locals for nearly 70 years! Over that time, the restaurant has grown and expanded from a humble trattoria to a four-diamond ristorante complete with tuxedoed waiters.
As the ristorante grew upscale, the family added a delicatessen with its own entrance called Marco Polo Italian Market. There, regulars buy everything from Italian cheese to crunchy, ready-to-fill cannoli shells and steaming hot sausage, onion, and pepper sandwiches!
KEY IDEA – Chef-owner Jasper Mirabile says that Covid was a double-edged sword. Closing the dining room for a time was tough. Meanwhile, deli sales went through the roof and have remained high thanks to the popularity of online ordering. Rather than a “% commission” model, their online orders remain profitable because they are processed through their POS for a flat $1.50 fee.
KEY IDEA – To help maximize baking consistency, especially across multiple locations, Andy’s team solely offers 18” pizzas sold by the slice or the pie. Sticking to a single size helps standardize bake times across different pie versions and simplifies ingredient portioning as well.
Thankfully, dining room traffic has since surpassed 2019 levels, and the family is again reserving favorite tables for weekly regulars.
Given tight labor and rising wages, Jasper believes that table-service restaurants face a tough choice – either rethink their service model to reduce labor or boost the sales- productivity of servers to offset rising wages. His family has done BOTH.
In their deli, labor demand remains steady despite increasing traffic because a growing share of incoming takeout orders are placed electronically without requiring order-takers or cashiers.
On the ristorante side, Jasper’s servers use highly visible demo carts to boost profitable appetizer and dessert sales.
KEY IDEA – Tableside Mozzarella – After watching a Neapolitan ristorante hand-making fresh mozzarella to order, Jasper designed a “cheese making” cart for his dining room. Now a signature attraction, guests enjoy watching Jasper’s team pull mozzarella from curd while explaining the process before savoring creamy fresh “insalata Caprese.” Visually intrigued, neighboring tables soon request their own demos. Despite their labor intensity, each $11 insalata requires just 4 ounces of curd, and the restaurant sells 180 weekly.
KEY IDEA – Dessert Cart – With the return of indoor dining, Jasper’s dessert cart is more popular (and profitable) than ever. The showcase displays 14 desserts including tiramisu, specialty cakes, fresh strawberries, and so on. Besides visually tempting guests at the end of their meal, Jasper’s employees know that slow-walking the cart by everyone else pre-convinces others to“save room for dessert.” As a result, more than 65% of tables order dessert.
KEY IDEA – Since Covid, food education “experiences” have grown increasingly popular. Recently, the restaurant hosted several popular Saturday prix fixe lunches highlighting different staple ingredients. For example, during his “It’s all about Parmigiano” luncheon, Chef Jasper shared the history of Parmigiano Regiano while demonstrating four authentic “alla Parmigiana” dishes!