Sharing Success

Not Reinventing the Wheel

It is hard to believe, but La Trattoria turns nineteen this year! A lot has happened in the restaurant industry since that first issue. But two things which have not changed are that hard-working Independents are still very much alive and kicking, and that your success still depends mainly on serving consistently superior food and satisfying customers with responsive, personalized service!

Back in 1990, Independents were facing especially stiff price competition from big chains. Because most of our customers are quality-oriented Independents, Dino recognized that our company’s success depends on yours. So he decided to help Independents exchange proven business building ideas to help each other better compete against the chains. The result was La Trattoria.

The value of good ideas multiplies when you share them. As Dino once explained, “Let us say you have one dollar and I have one dollar. If you give me your dollar and I give you mine, we each still have only one dollar. But if I have a proven idea and so do you, and we exchange our ideas, we each end up with two proven ideas at zero cost to either of us!”

Since then, we have published nearly 100 issues of La Trattoria, containing more than 1,000 individual ideas. Hopefully you have been able to put some of those ideas to work in your own place.

Over that same time, three really good things have happened to the restaurant industry:

1) Many consumers have grown increasingly knowledgeable about food in general, and authentic Italian food in particular. As a result, the expectations of quality oriented patrons have risen over time. Even during the current “tough times,” most Independents I have chatted with say their quality oriented patrons remain loyal, even if they can’t eat out quite as often.

2) The chains’ rapid expansion (and heavy price promotion) during the 1990s soon ran out of steam and most have since become even more cost-oriented as they have tried to compete with each other for deal-oriented price-shoppers. Buying cheaper (lesser quality) ingredients over time further reduced their ability to attract quality oriented patrons.

3) Independents who survived the “restaurant wars” of the 1990s did so by becoming even more quality focused over time. As a result, Independents as a whole have attracted significantly more quality patrons over time. In fact, by 2002, Independent pizzerias and Italian restaurants in America once again rivaled chain locations.

Today, when restaurateurs are coping with tough times, it seems like a good time to revisit some of the many valuable ideas published in past issues of La Trattoria. After all, like Dino says, “Why waste time reinventing the wheel?”

That is the reason, when we recently redesigned our company’s website,, we made it easier for you to search through more than 40 previous issues of La Trattoria to find solutions to specific business challenges.

That is also the reason for this special issue of La Trattoria. You may notice that it is twice as thick as usual. That is because in addition to our regular current issue, we also have included four more pages of great ideas from past issues.

Since Independents rely most on superior food quality and personalized service to succeed, I asked Editor Steve Rouse to focus on those topics when selecting ideas.

I hope you enjoy this special double issue of La Trattoria. If so, let us know, and we will consider doing it again in the future!