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Having words with Raymond V. Bartolomucci Jr., founder, Strizzi’s Restaurants Inc.

Having words with Raymond V. Bartolomucci Jr., founder, Strizzi’s Restaurants Inc.

“We manage the business; it doesn’t run us,” Raymond V. “Ray” Bartolomucci Jr. likes to say of his 23-year-old, Dublin, Calif.-based Strizzi’s Restaurants Inc., which operates four namesake upscale casual-dining locations and three fast-casual Rigatoni’s Fresh Italian Grill outlets.

That might explain how the Strizzi’s founder finds time for such family activities as supporting one of his two sons’ high school football team and getting involved with his two daughters’ Saturday soccer agendas.

Bartolomucci, after college, worked as a general manager for Steak & Ale before, among other things, opening hotel food-and-beverage operations for Marriott and managing stores for Restaurants Unlimited. He followed one of his grandfathers into the restaurant business at age 15 and gave his company his mother’s maiden name, as he said her Italian immigrant parents, Luciano and Assunta Strizzi, made food a centerpiece of family life and provided some of the recipes adapted for use by his company.

Tell me about Strizzi’s Restaurants.

We have 161 employees. [Annualized or actual] unit volumes range from $1.3 million to $2 million.


AGE: 55HOMETOWN: born in Greensburg, Pa.; raised in Torrance, Calif.; now resides in Pleasanton, Calif.EDUCATION: bachelor of science in business administration, with a hotel and restaurant management emphasis, Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona, Calif.PERSONAL: married with four childrenHOBBIES: snow skiing and boating

Who inspired you to become a restaurateur?

My grandfather, Raymond V. Bartolomucci Sr. He worked as a chef in the Beverly Hills and Los Angeles areas.

What inspires you on a daily basis?

Of course, the first passion I have is for food and the joy of serving both our guests and employees. Also exciting is the Rigatoni’s concept. It’s a great business model and [poised] for growth through franchising. The value is exceptional and fits our busy lifestyles.

How do your two concepts differ?

The Rigatoni’s concept is “fine dining in a quick-serve environment,” with all entrées freshly prepared in an exhibition kitchen. Guests order at the counter and then visit our bread and beverage bar, and then servers serve guests their entrées. Rigatoni’s uses china and glassware, with a combined lunch and dinner average check of $9-$10. On average, it does 65-percent dine-in business and 35-percent takeout.

The Strizzi’s concept is full-service, specializing in fresh pasta, fresh fish, seafood and wood-grilled specialty entrées. It has a combined lunch and dinner average check of from $19 to $21.

How have you coped with the recession?

By creating an administrative-costs-reduction plan, revising purchase agreements with our long-term purveyors, and adding new software for unit managers and accounting. We’ve had no layoffs as of this time, and we continue to look at our menu in terms of offering value related to such things, for example, as portions, overall plate presentation and new offerings. We also have a debt-reduction plan [and] have looked at how we could better communicate value offerings to our e-mail club members.

What are you doing to prepare for future growth?

We are licensed to franchise Rigatoni’s nationally.

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