Success Stories

Ristorante Giuseppe

When two generations of the Brucia family opened Ristorante Giuseppe in Shreveport, LA, in 2006, they attracted sophisticated upscale patrons with contemporary fine Italian dining. But when “tough times” arrived two years later, they had to quickly appeal to a much wider audience (or risk going broke).

Natalie Brucia says that when she, father in law Chef Giuseppe, and husband, Joe, first opened the ristorante, their dream was to bring the latest high cuisine from Italy to Shreveport, served in elegant surroundings, from a cobalt blue stainless steel display kitchen to refined oil paintings in the dining room.

While Chef Giuseppe’s contemporary Italian cooking attracted loyal “foodies,” tough times soon eroded how often they could visit. Faced with declining “upscale” business, the Brucias began trying to attract more “everyday” families. Unfortunately, the sophisticated menu and décor which had strongly appealed to upscale patrons felt “too fancy” or “too pricy” to average families.

To make the menu more accessible to average families, Chef Giuseppe shifted his cooking style from contemporary to rustic Italian, emphasizing highly flavorful, yet relatively economical, peasant foods like handmade pastas and lots of fresh fish. The physical menu was also redesigned to reposition pasta as a flavorful family style entrée, not just a traditional “primo” course. To satisfy existing “foodie” regulars, Giuseppe kept some of their sophisticated “favorites” from the old menu.

Natalie and Joe worked on how guests thought of the restaurant itself. Since some area families were more familiar with chains than with Ristorante Giuseppe, they brainstormed what message they could emphasize in their modest “marketing” which would appeal to families and stand out from the chains. The answer was Chef Giuseppe himself, since chains didn’t have a real Italian owner in their kitchen handcrafting pastas!

Soon, Giuseppe’s story began appearing in their local newspaper ad and in the restaurant. Customers read how, in Sicily, Giuseppe had entered culinary school when he was ten and worked his way to become a head chef by age twenty. To further reinforce Giuseppe’s roots and make the restaurant feel homier, the heavy oil paintings were replaced with large old family photos.

To take full advantage of their “freshly prepared pasta” advantage, the Brucias also began updating their newspaper ad weekly to showcase Chef Giuseppe’s latest handcrafted creations. The reason this “marketing” approach resonated with customers was that it was TRUE! His specialty pastas were consistently excellent and, thanks to his brilliant blue display kitchen, they could not help but recognize the very REAL Giuseppe passionately cooking every time they came!

As a result, the Brucias successfully tapped into a whole new customer base while retaining their original fans along the way. BRAVO!