Success Stories

Rosa’s Italian Market and Deli

When Tina-Marie (Diana) Schultz thinks back to her grandmother’s successful Elizabeth, NJ, deli, she remembers how Nonna was friends with absolutely everyone in the neighborhood! So when Tina-Marie opened her own place in Post Falls, ID, she set out to build similarly personal friendships with each of her customers!

Located in a old century old Victorian house, Tina-Marie’s Italian market and delicatessen features authentic, homemade Italian entrées, handmade Italian desserts, and home baked breads, as well as cheeses, cured meats, dried pastas, wine, and beer imported from Italy.

In keeping with the homey “feel” of her converted Victorian, owner Tina-Marie Schultz wanted guests to feel as if they were visiting an Italian home, rather than a more “conventional” business. To reinforce this atmosphere, she has coached her team to always refer to their customers as “company,” as in calling out “Company’s here!” whenever guests enter the shop.

To create additional opportunities to bond one on one with customers (and to promote interest in cooking with the specialty ingredients she sells), Tina-Marie also regularly publicizes hands on classes where guests can learn to make various authentic specialties, from various entrées to Sicilian pastry, like lobster tail shaped sfogliatelle.

As a small, Independent food business, Rosa’s Italian Market cannot afford pricey advertising. So instead she creates free, ongoing publicity by involving local “influencers” (a popular TV weatherman, radio DJs, local business leaders, etc.) in her “Celebrity Menu” charity fundraiser.

The idea began when Tina-Marie and a chef friend were brainstorming how to shake things up in town, and her friend suggested creating a sandwich in honor of the mayor since Rosa’s is located across from city hall. Tina-Marie said, “Why stop with the mayor?”

Instead of just renaming existing menu items, Tina-Marie worked with each local influencer to create a truly distinctive “celebrity dish” based on their own favorite foods. After hearing their preferences, she developed three or four distinctive variations of their dish. Tina-Marie then let each influencer decide which version best represented their particular personality.

Each celebrity also nominated a favorite charity to receive a small donation with the sales of their personal item. Finally, Tina-Marie printed a separate “2011 Rosa’s Celebrity Menu,” describing each unique dish and each celebrity’s notable community accomplishments.

For example, based on Deputy Sheriff Gary (D’Ago) Dagastine’s love of fiery foods, the two collaborated to create “D’Ago’s Inferno,” a spicy specialty sandwich featuring hot Italian sausage, spicy capicola, hot peppers, and a fiery dressing, piled on a freshly baked Italian roll.

To keep the promotion in the public eye, Tina-Marie regularly publishes in the local paper how much each celebrity’s item has raised for charity. As a result, a friendly rivalry has developed over whose item will be “most popular” each week, with several celebrities actively “campaigning” on behalf of their namesake item (and eating at Rosa’s) with family, friends, and fans!