Business Builders

Memorable Tactics

“Joe Eats Free Today”

When located next to a busy street, businesses risk becoming “invisible” to passing motorists. Restaurateur Tom Wolfert’s solution? Every morning, he posts the name of a random local (e.g., Joe Tavola) on his roadside marquee, just above the phrase “eats free today!” Then, if one or more folks named “Joe Tavola” (verified by their IDs) visit that day, they are congratulated with a free sandwich and soda!

For the ingredient cost of a sandwich a day, Tom has trained hundreds of potential customers to automatically look for his sign (and to think of his place) every time they pass by, on the chance they might have won Wolfies’ “lunchtime lotto”!

Tom Wolfert, Owner Wolfies Sandwiches Zeeland, MI


Pasta in Kandahar

Last fall, an old friend of restaurateur Phil Morizio mentioned that his military unit in Afghanistan was homesick for home cooked Italian food. Phil let his regulars know, and soon the “customer family” at Café Al Dente had assembled all the fixings for a big pasta meal! Because it was almost Halloween, Phil’s generous guests also contributed plenty of Halloween candy and new toothbrushes!

Then Phil shipped the “care packages” to his friend’s military unit in Afghanistan via US Mail. After cooking up their “Pasta Night” meal, the grateful troops thanked Phil’s loyal customers by sending Café Al Dente the American flag which had flown over their outpost! Bravo!!!

Phil Morizio, Owner Café Al Dente Oyster Bay, NY


Prom to Remember

At LoCoco’s Ristorante, Maria LoCoco has fed several generations of loyal neighborhood families and thinks of their children as her own nieces and nephews. So it is fitting for Maria to help them create special memories, like going to their high school prom.

Maria’s offer to “her kids”? Bring their date to LoCoco’s on Prom Night, and Maria will gladly buy their dinner and prepare something special for the occasion! Her young regulars love the special attention, Maria gets to see them dressed up in their suits and gowns, and their families grow even closer to LoCoco’s!

Maria LoCoco, Owner LoCoco’s Ristorante Oakland, CA


Guiding a Perfect Slice

When Greg Getzinger first wanted to supply school lunch programs with pizza, he found that they required identical portion sizes (i.e., slices). But since “free hand” pizza cutting sometimes creates uneven slices, Greg designed specially marked cutting boards to show his employees exactly where to center the pizza and where to start and finish each cut to create identical slices every time.

Greg’s “cutting guide” invention was so practical that he actually started a second business selling them to other pizzerias also interested in achieving “the perfect slice.”

Greg Getzinger, Owner Pizza Bogo, Hudson, OH


“Gluten Free” Growth

When “gluten free” cooking first appeared, John Siragusa paid little attention. But later, as a favor to a friend, John quietly added a few gluten free options to his menu.

What surprised John was that, despite no “marketing” whatsoever, demand for those items steadily increased, based solely on word of mouth within the local “celiac” community. Better yet, sales of John’s traditional offerings remained high. In other words, the new items were attracting brand new customers of their own, rather than displacing existing ones.

Preparing “gluten free” foods requires setting aside a separate “flour free” prep area and following some commonsense rules. However, given the boost to his bottom line, John has been happy to oblige!

John Siragusa, Owner Angelina’s Pizza and Pasta, Hyde Park, NY


Introducing the Family

Like many restaurateurs, Paul Visingardi proudly displays several generations of family photos in his pizzeria. This helps get guests in the mood for some authentic homestyle Italian cooking and reminds them that Vizzy’s is family owned and operated!

To Paul, each photo tells a story of one kind or another, even if it is just the names and relationships of family members who appear in them. So to make his family photos feel more personal to customers, Paul has posted brief descriptions next to many of the images, introducing the earlier generations of his family by name!

Paul Visingardi, Owner Vizzy’s Pizza Palace, Westland, MI