Business Builders

Reaching Out

Long-Haul Regulars

Towns located at “crossroads” between highways are often convenient “pit stops” for long-haul truckers halfway between “here” and “there.” While these 18- wheelers may appear to be just one-time visitors, John Nakashima knows that many of them follow the same routes weekly.

With his pizzeria close to an off-ramp, John targets these “long-haul regulars” when they park their rigs nearby. His employees give them flyers offering a free soda for trying his pizza. Because the truckers appreciate the warm reception and John’s tasty food, they’ve been recommending his place to their friends all up and down I-55!

John Nakashima, Owner Dwight Pizza, Dwight, IL


Enticing Language

Restaurateur Erica Cochiaro always believed good food sells itself. While she was skeptical about whether menu wording influences customers, Erica felt that her “no frills” fax menu wasn’t projecting her ingredients’ superior quality.

So she rewrote it to make each item sound more enticing. For example, “with mozzarella” and “grilled chicken with lettuce” became “smothered in warm mozzarella” and “tender slices of grilled chicken over a bed of crisp lettuce.” As a result of this simple change, her fax-based orders increased dramatically. And because Erica’s food lives up to the descriptions, she’s adding repeat customers daily!

Erica Cochiaro, Manager Cochiaro’s, Chicago, IL


Celebrating Students

Located close to a small private high school, John Tavares works to make his student-aged regulars feel valued in his place, especially during the lunch hour and immediately after school, when they’re naturally inclined to buy themselves lunch or a snack.

One way John does this is by treating students to a soda and a slice on their birthday. Not only does it help the students feel connected to the restaurant, they typically bring along paying friends when they redeem their treat, which makes the gesture pay

for itself.

John Tavares, Owner The Great Canadian Pizza Co. Mississauga, ON


“Play Book” Consistency

Small restaurants sometimes rely on a single individual to prepare house specialties. But this leaves them vulnerable should that person become seriously ill (or deserve time off).

Instead, Frank Compagnino and his sister Rose equally share cooking duties in their catering business. To keep both cooks equally familiar with every recipe in their repertoire, they maintain a “playbook.” Then, whenever either prepares a dish, they first consult that recipe’s page. Then afterward, they record any adjustments for next time.

Because both siblings remain fully-interchangeable, each can enjoy their own worry-free time away from the business!

Frank Compagnino & Rose Compagnino, Co-Owners Francesco’s Catering, Raritan, NJ


Saving Cold Cash

Refrigerators are boring, but keeping them running efficiently keeps food uniformly cold (promoting flavor consistency), reduces energy costs, and minimizes expensive service calls. That’s why AJ Scalise regularly cleans his refrigerator coils using compressed air. To speed cleanup, first placing a dampened towel behind the coils helps trap airborne dust.

But the biggest savings come from clear plastic cold curtains AJ installed just behind the walk-in door. Because the curtains prevent chilled air from escaping when the door is open, less cold air must be replaced once it’s re-closed. (It also beats yelling “Close the fridge.”)

AJ Scalise, Owner Prima Pizza, Cornwall, NY

Delivery Locker

Bread tastes best when it’s freshest! That’s why the Gazzano family insists that their bakery deliver freshly-baked bread every morning. But this early, early delivery isn’t always on time. Rather than going to work early, the Gazzano’s built a secure, food-grade delivery locker behind their restaurant.

The locker has two keys: one carried by the driver and one secured inside the restaurant. The driver can secure the bread safely inside the locker, no matter when he arrives. Later, when the Gazzano’s arrive to open up, their fresh bread is waiting for them, safe, sound, and delicious!

Frank Gazzano, Owner Sorrento Village Ristorante, Melrose Park, IL