Business Builders

Standing Out

Celebrate Generations

When a restaurant’s success depends on reinforcing long, loyal customer relationships, it only makes sense to celebrate them over time! That is why after 35 years in the same location, second generation restaurateur Frank Triolo and his family maintain a large bulletin board of customer photos showing two, three, and four generations of guest families dining together in the restaurant!

To keep the board fresh and to recognize newer families becoming regulars, the Triolos keep snapping new photos, while giving some older ones a place of honor in the restaurant’s photo albums. As Frank says: “This helps us show our gratitude to our customers, because they made us successful.”

Frank Triolo, Owner Pizza Kitchen Rosemead, CA


Homespun Humor

Some chain restaurants insist on cookie cutter sameness. On the other hand, some Independents make themselves memorable precisely because they refuse to conform. For example, restaurateur Fred Race delights in personalizing his menus, delivery boxes, paper placemats, and even window signs with a never ending supply of witticisms, proverbs, and puns. Examples include: “7 days without pizza makes one weak” and “Don’t stand there and be hungry, come on in and get fed up!”

While a humorous approach may not be for everyone, sharing his latest jokes with regulars provides Fred one more way to personally engage them every time they visit!

Fred Race, Owner Race Restaurant Strongsville, OH


Hotel Shuttle

For hotel guests, deciding where to dine out can include figuring out how far away each option may be via taxi. That is why a few years ago, Seattle restaurateurs David and Lily Kong began offering free “shuttle” service (summoned via phone) from upscale hotels to make choosing their Italian ristorante over competitors even easier. To make return trips especially memorable, the Kongs had their shuttle pause briefly at several vista points along the hilly route to the hotel district to allow passengers to savor some of Seattle’s stunning nightscapes!

David and Lily Kong, Owners Perché No? Seattle, WA


Improvise an “Open Kitchen”

Restaurateur David DeGeorge knows that many regulars enjoy receiving personal recognition from “the owner” whenever they visit. But because David is also a busy chef, he cannot leave his enclosed kitchen often enough to visit every guest’s table. That is why David improvised a clever way to greet customers face to face on every visit without leaving his kitchen! That is, David installed a large glass door between his kitchen and his restaurant’s foyer. Now, he can wave through the door to every arriving guest, inviting them to “swing back by the kitchen” after their meal. On their way out, David briefly pauses from cooking long enough to exchange greetings, ask about their meal, and personally thank them for coming. Asking them to share their feedback afterwards emphasizes to guests that David knows he will be preparing their meal and values their opinion. Post meal conversations also stay short and sweet since guests are satisfied and already on their way out the door!

David DeGeorge, Owner Lakeway Restaurant, Ashtabula, OH


“Validating” Tolls

Sometimes unexpected obstacles can stand between a restaurant and potential customers. Back when restaurateur Frank Manzullo (now retired) wanted to build his clientele within his rural Illinois ristorante, he began advertising in several nearby small town newspapers. However, some locals had to travel the Illinois Tollway to get to Frank’s place. While the fee was minimal, it was enough of a nuisance to keep some folks from shopping in neighboring towns. To eliminate this hurdle, Frank’s ads in those towns offered to reimburse the toll when their residents visited his place. Frank’s gesture must have impressed locals, because while not many actually presented toll receipts, the Manzullos noticed that more and more of their loyal customers were coming from those areas!

Frank Manzullo, Owner Manzullo’s Famous Restaurant, Rockford, IL