Success Stories

Liberatore’s Ristorante

Despite tough times, Liberatore’s Ristorante in Baltimore, MD, continues to thrive, largely due to its extraordinarily loyal clientele. The Liberatore family has cultivated this loyalty over many years by focusing their team first on making an emotional connection with every guest, every time they visit. This has allowed the family’s six locations to remain popular, while a number of upscale chains have not been as fortunate.

Besides keeping their food consistently superior across all six locations, the Liberatores first and foremost lead their team by example. That is, they personally spend most of their time in each restaurant’s dining room, at guest tables, personally greeting and thanking them for their business.

Liberatore’s has also gotten very good at bonding with guests by making their personal celebrations especially memorable. Some restaurants will recognize guest birthdays if friends happen to alert the server during the meal. Instead, the Liberatores have established a proactive, systematic process to identify every special celebration (including anniversaries, engagements, report cards, etc.) taking place in the restaurant and make it as memorable as possible.

For starters, the family has established a “culture of celebration” among its employees. For example, hosts taking reservations or greeting drop in guests always inquire whether they happen to be celebrating a special occasion. If so, the honoree’s name and occasion are noted.

Then, not only are they recognized with a special dessert, it is personalized and accompanied by a gift to be enjoyed on a future visit!

To keep the process running smoothly, it follows specific steps. First, once the celebratory meal is underway, the honoree’s name and a brief message are printed onto a florist style card via the computer in the “carry out” area of the restaurant. (e.g., “Happy Birthday, Zia Maria! Please enjoy a glass of wine on us when you next visit! – Liberatore’s.”)

Next, the personalized card is taken to the kitchen and inserted into a thin plastic note holder (like florists tuck into bouquets). Then, once the base of the holder is planted into the dessert, it is ready to be presented at the appropriate time.

The extra touch of including “something for next time” is especially powerful because it keeps them thinking about Liberatore’s long after their party and looking forward to coming back soon!

To draw guests closer, Dante also likes to create fun events where they can further immerse themselves in his family’s love of great food, their heritage, and the Old Country. Examples include winemaker dinners, where the featured vintners are chosen in part for their storytelling abilities, and providing free space to a local language instructor to hold her conversational Italian classes in the restaurant. For the truly adventurous, Dante even hosts tours to Italy, where guests accompany him in visiting small, family owned trattorie in search of new, flavorful menu ideas!

By focusing on consistently great food and making guests feel like VIP members of what Dante calls the “Liberatore’s fraternity,” the restaurant has remained both popular and profitable, which in a highly competitive marketplace is a very good thing indeed.