Business Builders

Season’s Greetings

Tree of Hope

Part of what makes the holidays special for restaurateur Roseann Gezmish and her team is helping raise money for less fortunate members of their community in a way which makes their patrons feel good too!Roseann’s team puts up a large Christmas tree in the restaurant and offers guests a chance to decorate their “Tree of Hope” in honor of their loved ones, past and present. For each $5 donated to the local food bank, Roseann neatly writes the loved one’s name on a colorful glass ball ornament which is then hung on the tree. (Because she writes with erasable “white board markers,” each ornament can be wiped clean after the holidays and reused year after year.)

Last year, Roseann’s Tree of Hope helped dozens of guests get into the holiday spirit, while helping to raise $3,500 for the local food bank!

Roseann Gezmish, Owner Pepper’s Restaurant Barrhead, AB


The Red Envelope

To thank loyal guests for their patronage (and to help boost slow January sales), the Donatone family prints gift certificates good in January for fairly high value gifts, including free appetizers, entrees, desserts, and even bottles of house Chianti. They then seal the certificates in opaque red envelopes and label the outside with: “Bring this envelope unopened to our ristorante between January 1st and 31st, 2011, to receive your complimentary ‘New Year’s Gift!’”

Of the 200 envelopes distributed during last December, 40 were redeemed the following January. Guests presenting the unopened envelopes were excited to finally see what gift was contained inside and a good time was had by all. For the ingredient cost of 40 prizes and 200 envelopes, the Donatones memorably thanked their customers, while boosting January sales by thousands of dollars vs. the same period the prior year!

Anthony Donatone, Owner Casa D’Italia Seattle, WA


Holiday Cheer

Deck the Halls with Panettone

On Christmas Eve, restaurateurs Sal and Lina Pagliarulo thank their loyal patrons with gifts of panettone cake, imported from Italy. But the fun really begins in early December when Sal hangs the dining room rafters with more than 300 colorfully decorated boxes of panettone. Then, for the entire month, the colorful boxes brighten the room and add to its festive atmosphere. Finally, on Christmas Eve, Sal takes the boxes down one at a time to present them to each departing family!


Sal’s Pals Help Needy Kids

During the holidays, Sal Pagliarulo also enjoys helping needy kids by hosting an annual toy drive called “Sal’s Pals.” From Thanksgiving through Christmas, Sal encourages guests and area merchants to bring toys and children’s clothes to the restaurant. In support of the event, the local newspaper provides plenty of free publicity. Then, just before Christmas, Sal loves to personally deliver each truckload of unwrapped gifts to several area churches, which then distribute them to local families in need.


Guide to Christmas Entertaining

Sal also writes an annual feature for the local newspaper on “Choosing the right restaurant for your Christmas party.” Then, rather than promoting his own business, Sal shares truly useful advice that potential first-time hosts might not otherwise consider:

• Because it’s cold, choose a nearby restaurant so older guests won’t have far to travel.

• Visit the restaurant ahead of time and ask to see exactly where your group will be seated to avoid unfortunate last minute surprises!

• Confirm that the owner will be on premise during your event to personally ensure that everything will go as planned.

Because Sal wisely doesn’t toot his own horn, he earns credibility with readers, including a few new party hosts every year!

Sal & Lina Pagliarulo, Owners Lina’s Ristorante Bloomingdale, NJ