Success Stories

Pietro’s Trattoria

During tough times, many restaurant customers cannot dine out as often as they used to. But instead of becoming price conscious, most quality oriented patrons have further raised their quality expectations. At the same time, “upscale” patrons who used to frequent pricier steakhouses are now seeking more economical, yet flavorful, cuisines like pasta and pizza! To leverage both trends, second generation restaurateurs Jim and Annette Murdaca have worked to elevate the entire “dining experience” at Pietro’s Trattoria in Lodi, CA.

Here are a few of the ways Jim and Annette have enhanced their guests’ dining experience and further distanced themselves from price oriented competitors.

First and foremost, the Murdacas began their improvements by further enhancing the quality of their food. So at the same time area chains were cutting food costs (and quality), Pietro’s began spending more to upgrade ingredient quality.

For example, the family began placing bottles of real extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on tables for dipping bread and seasoning salads. They also spent more for a premium cheese brand known for consistently exceptional flavor.

To better attract new upscale patrons, Pietro’s began testing more upscale type dishes, like Risotto di Mare with fresh shrimp, mussels, and clams and premium antipasti like prosciutto di San Daniele with fresh melon.

Meanwhile, as chains cut portion sizes, the Murdacas welcomed hungry guests to Pietro’s tables with large round loaves of HOT house baked bread. Then, at meal’s end, each aromatic cup of Pietro’s freshly brewed coffee is automatically served with crunchy, house baked biscotti!

To make newer, more profitable additions stand out on the menu, the Murdacas began to dedicate far less space to describing old standbys. So instead of separately listing every possible pasta and sauce combination, “Classic Pasta” became a single line item: “Your choice of spaghetti, penne, angel hair, pappardelle … with fresh marinara, meat, or pesto sauce.”

To boost wine and spirits sales without price promotion (and to better appeal to new upscale customers), Pietro’s reworked their wine list to emphasize finer, locally produced wines by the glass. Over time, they also began spotlighting a short list of intriguing premium specialty cocktails (at full price).

To elevate their pizza offerings, Pietro’s began introducing new, flavorfully authentic toppings not available elsewhere, like grilled fresh asparagus, caramelized onions, and fresh fior di latte cheese. To further reinforce their pizza’s premium “artisan quality,” Pietro’s menu eventually replaced their previous “small, medium, and large” sizes with 12” pies exclusively.

In addition to elevating their food, Pietro’s consistently elevated its service levels as well. Not only do Jim and Annette constantly reinforce the importance of frequently interacting with their guests, Jim especially leads by example, floating between embracing arriving regulars and personally visiting every table.

By elevating their food and service and by targeting new, upscale patrons, not only has Pietro’s remained profitable during tough times, it has grown consistently busier, earlier and earlier in the week, requiring several dining room expansions in the process! Bravo!!