Friday, March 1, 2024

2009 April: Il Pizzaiolo: Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too!

frankJonAndLuigi01Calfornia-based Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! has a kind of storied histories relationship again to the Nineteen Fifties when a Connecticut native moved West and opened a pizza parlor.642-427
He was later joined by Frank D’Ambrosio Sr. Fifty years later, D’Ambrosio’s sons, Don, Nick, John and Frank, now man the helm of Achievement Techniques Inc., the holding firm that owns and operates six eating places all through California and a sausage firm their father based (taking it from 600 kilos a day to 30-40 tons a day. That very same sausage is used of their eating places as properly).



Dig beneath the floor of the company entity, although, and also you’ll discover that Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! with three shops beneath it’s umbrella, is greater than a slick package deal. It’s an quaint Italian dinner home, the sort the brothers most definitely grew up in as children. From the crimson checkered tablecloths to basic dishes like Veal Scaloppini Marsala and Rigatoni e Spinaci, Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! is Italian via and thru, precisely what its house owners need. And given its gross sales of $15 million a 12 months –– a far cry from its preliminary $22 first-day gross sales –– they appear to be doing it efficiently. (Achievement Techniques additionally owns two items know as Giorgio’s and a high quality eating institution as properly.) “The idea is so an identical, says John D’Ambrosio, who serves as the corporate’s CEO. “The one distinction is that Frankie & Johnnie’s are in freestanding buildings and Giorgio’s are in in-line buying facilities. Their menus are an identical (and) the operations are an identical. We at all times discuss as in the event that they had been one.”

frankJonAndLuigi03Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! gives dine-in and “an amazing” carryout enterprise, however doesn’t provide supply, D’Ambrosio says. “We didn’t need the trouble or the legal responsibility. Additionally, I’d relatively have individuals choose up meals after which they see the opposite meals. I feel it’s nearly a greater advertising and marketing device to get them within the shops and see what else we provide.”

D’Ambrosio cites a serious level of distinction that units Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! other than its opponents –– in contrast to many different pizzerias, Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! is a full-service idea. That features desk service and a full bar at every of the shops.

frankJonAndLuigi04Why full service over a much less laborintensive counter service idea? “It simply wasn’t our mentality,” D’Ambrosio says. “I simply at all times hated it. It was chilly, it was impersonal –– it simply wasn’t us.” D’Ambrosio and his brother, Frank, maintain a fi rm hand on high quality and management, and that has stored the idea initially small (learn on to be taught extra about upcoming growth plans).

“Some guys don’t care about management. They only care about development and having an exit technique,” D’Ambrosio says. “I feel that is the important thing: my brother Frank and I –– and my different brothers, too –– I feel have a real sense of hospitality and that’s why we couldn’t do the self-service factor. It goes again to after we had been children and also you’d invite someone in with ‘Are available in, sit down and I’ll get you a cup of espresso.’ I feel with a real sense of hospitality and a real sense of urgency of getting the job executed and ensuring issues are executed proper, you progress rather a lot slower. You delegate perhaps rather less and while you attempt to maintain your requirements excessive, you don’t develop too quick.”

frankJonAndLuigi05Like many operators, D’Ambrosio says workers coaching “is far more tough as we speak than it was 20 years in the past. It takes rather a lot longer to coach workers … you must educate them on the meals, methods to promote it and methods to serve it. It’s very tough to search out individuals who view it as a occupation.”

Previously, D’Ambrosio has tried gross sales incentives as a retention device, however finally “you simply rent one of the best perspective we will, we attempt to prepare them one of the best we will, we attempt to comply with via with that coaching … after which we monitor one of the best we will.”



frankJonAndLuigi06The crown jewel of Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! is its menu. That is no easy pizza and pasta set-up. As a substitute, diners can take pleasure in a meal of Calamari Fritti (Semolina herb-crusted squid served with cocktail and tartar sauce at $9.50), Baked Salmon Risotto (oven baked salmon served over risotto with onions, artichoke hearts, crimson bell peppers, mushrooms, inexperienced onions and sun-dried tomatoes at $11.95), oven-baked manicotti (filled with herbed ricotta and topped with creamy pesto, béchamel and marinara sauces and served with spinach aglio olio at $9.50) and topped off with tiramisu or cheesecake.

And whereas these dishes might sound high-brow to many Pizza As we speak readers, make no mistake: pizza is king right here too, with specialty connoisseur pizzas like Johnnie’s Favourite (pesto, roasted hen, roasted crimson bell pepper, artichoke hearts, black olives, bruschetta tomato, ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese at $24.95 for a 16-inch giant) sitting alongside facet staples like barbecue hen ($19.95 for a big) and pepperoni ($18.50). Pizzas are baked in a rotary oven which affords extra room within the kitchen.

frankJonAndLuigi07Being a full-service restaurant extends to the total bar, which D’Ambrosio says is an lodging to his visitors, with onerous liquor changing into a bigger a part of the restaurant starting about 10 years in the past.

“Generally you would possibly lose a celebration since you don’t serve cocktails,” D’Ambrosio provides. Nonetheless, he says that arduous liquor gross sales are low in comparison with beer and wine in his institutions. (Alcohol accounts for about 10 p.c of gross sales).

frankJonAndLuigi08With six shops in all beneath their belts, is growth within the firm’s future? “We had been going to broaden within the Central Valley on a 5-year plan to do about 15 shops, however as all the things began turning to hell in 2001, 2002, I pulled the reins again in questioning if it was the proper time or not and it was factor I did,” D’Ambrosio says. “Now’s the time to re-implement that plan of growth.

“Enterprise is sort of a tomato. You possibly can’t let it ripen as a result of then it rots and falls off the vine. You’ve acquired to maintain it inexperienced. We’ve acquired so many tenured individuals in our system that we’ve acquired to maintain it shifting for them to maneuver up, or we’ll lose them.”

D’Ambrosio says he hopes to open three extra shops and is creating a quick meals idea that may pair the corporate’s signature pizza with choices utilizing the corporate’s sausage.

Backside line, the D’Ambrosio household has weathered a lot of their 50 years within the restaurant business, and John says there are a number of components to that success. First, “it’s a balancing act of placing away cash within the good instances, as a result of you realize there are going to be unhealthy instances,” he says. “One other large problem is maintaining on retailer upkeep … they put on out. You must maintain them recent and maintain them alive.”

Preserve meals high quality and protecting the menu recent to keep away from recipe erosion are additionally crucial components to longevity. “In case you have good meals and good service at a reasonable value in a clear, pleasant environment, they’ll come,” D’Ambrosio says, “and that has not modified for the reason that first restaurant in Ithica 6,000 years in the past.”?

Mandy Wolf Detwiler is managing editor at Pizza As we speak.642-432

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