Success Stories

Lina’s Ristorante

Owners Sal and Lina Pagliarulo attribute their neighborhood restaurant’s long time success to purposefully viewing their business as a daily opportunity to invest in tomorrow. That is, instead of just thinking about how to please customers today, theyíre already thinking ahead to how they can best wow them so thoroughly that they simply won’t be able to resist returning tomorrow!


Sal and Lina have been serving locals in Bloomingdale, NJ since 1983. While plenty of other area restaurants have since come and gone, Sal says their placeís longevity comes from insisting on the best ingredients and constantly ìreinvestingî themselves in customer relationships.

Both Sal and Lina absolutely love what they do. Sal enjoys being in the restaurant so much, he says, ìif I didnít own the place, Iíd have to come here as a customer.î

The source of their enthusiasm is three fold. First, they take great pride in the quality of their food. Second, they thrive on building personal relationships and helping others. For example, in addition to embracing customers as they arrive and depart (literally with hugs and kisses), the Pagliarulos regularly give back to the community by hosting charitable fundraisers and by collecting donated toys for needy kids at Christmas. Third, Sal and Lina avoid burnout by carefully reinvesting time in their personal life. That is, the couple closes the restaurant two days a week to ìspend time with our family.î

As for building customer relationships, Sal and Lina each have their own approach. In the kitchen, Sal keeps a close eye on everything. For example, he routinely tastes his incoming ingredients to ensure theyíre at their most flavorful (or they get sent back to the distributor). He also has a soft spot for making his older customers feel special, from ìspeaking dialectî with them to treating them to old time favorites, like ìpork skin brascioleî they canít find elsewhere.

On the other hand, Lina is happiest interacting with customers in the dining room, working alongside her servers. For Lina, the key to making guests feel compelled to return tomorrow is making them feel fussed over today. For example, if sheís near the front door when guests arrive, she loves ìmaking a commotionî by embracing them a hug and a kiss, even if she doesnít yet know them. ìThatís just the way we are with everybody who comes here,î she says.

She also wants every guest to feel like a VIP. Thatís why she insists that, when guests are being seated, her servers take the time to open each cloth napkin and place it in their lap. Itís a small, but personal gesture of respect toward the customers.

Finally, since compelling guests to return in the future depends on connecting with them today, Linaís servers are trained to notify her whenever unfamiliar guests visit the restaurant. That way, she can make a point of visiting their table, introducing herself as the owner, and treating them to a complimentary dessert to celebrate what she hopes is the first of many visits.

By consistently ìinvestingî in quality and customer relationships every chance they get, Lina and Sal continue to reap the rewards from having a particularly loyal clientele. Bravo!