Andrew Datre’s family has been in the pizzeria business for generations. But in his new Fair Haven, NJ, restaurant, Andrew had a vision for creating a new, hip style of pizzeria whose appearance, presentation, and ultra-premium quality menu would stand out to younger generations as genuinely unique. He named it Lupo.
While many traditional pizzerias carry a founder’s first name, Andrew instead chose “Lupo” (Italian for wolf) to help his place stand out as unique. Lupo is also his nonna’s maiden name.
Key Idea – To make his restaurant feel genuinely unique from family-style pizzerias, Andrew keeps Lupo’s menu exceptionally tight and focused. To upscale his pizza offerings, he skipped offering “small-medium-large” size choices in favor of fixed entrée sized pies. Further treating pizzas like specially designed entrées, instead of “mix and match” topping combos, guests at Lupo choose between named pie versions with preselected topping combos (no substitutions).
Key Idea – To help his ultra-premium quality ingredients stand out, Andrew prefers to curate a few exceptionally strong menu selections not available elsewhere vs. offering “something for everyone.” So, in designing new dishes, Andrew highlights ultra-premium, high flavor ingredients uniquely hand prepared, which stand out from other locally available offerings.
- Smoked, slow-roasted pulled pork sandwiches feature freshly baked ciabatta bread.
- shaved prime ribeye and aged cheese.
- Pasta entrées exclusively feature handmade noodles.
- Pizzas showcase house made mozzarella.
Key Idea – Andrew has also created uniquely “buzz- worthy” salads from the freshest specialty greens in oversized bowls. The huge salads, which can easily feed four people, have become so popular that Andrew has further broadened his salad menu without cannibalizing existing sales.
Key Idea – To ensure that each menu item continues pulling its weight profit-wise, every six months, Andrew reviews his POS sales data. “Slow movers” are identified and either improved or retired to make room for newer,more exciting choices. Andrew also charges premiums for his more labor-intensive dishes, reflecting their true fully loaded cost of production.
While impacted by the labor shortage, Andrew is still able to find and hire new employees, largely because his family has earned a reputation over the years for treating their employees well.
And because Lupo stands out from other area restaurants as unique, Andrew largely ignores how others price their menus. When costs including labor have increased, Andrew has passed along the increases by raising menu prices.
Lupo’s growing popularity throughout the pandemic is great news for Independents looking to further enhance their menu appeal (and profitability) by finding ways to further upgrade their ingredient quality! BRAVO!