Shopping Center Business

MAY 2016

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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RETAIL REVIEW 84 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2016 F rom a family of Italian restaura- teurs, it seems only natural that An- thony Russo, president and creator of Houston-based Russo's New York Piz- zeria, would follow suit. "I grew up in the restaurant business," says Russo. "My par- ents were restaurant owners from Naples and Sicily, Italy. As a boy I learned all of my parents recipes in the kitchen — that was my homework. Then, in the mid-1990s I started opening up the concept Russo's New York Pizzeria." When creating the Russo's concept, it was incredibly important to Anthony that each offering be made from scratch, as they were made by his family. "What's cool about Russo's is that we make every menu item fresh from scratch," says Rus- so. "Everything that that we offer at the restaurant today is a trade secret family recipe — our marinara sauce, pesto sauce, pizza sauce, pizza dough and salad dress- ings are all made in house." As far as offerings, Russo's menu con- tains a broad range of Italian favorites, from pizzas, to lasagna and gnocchi. "Our menu is very unique be- cause we offer a variety of great Italian cuisine," says Russo. "We offer New York- style pizza and great Italian en- trees like angel hair pesto and homemade gn- occhi. We make our potato pasta and our own can- nelloni by hand. We make our own lasagna and meatballs — it's all fully authen- tic and true to the store." Anthony trains each franchisee for sev- eral weeks to ensure that the Russo family recipes are cooked to perfection. "What's unique about Russo's is that we have all of these great chef-driven rec- ipes already in place," says Rus- so. "I share my experience with my franchisees when they come train at Russo's. Training is six to eight weeks, so they learn all of the culinary trade secrets that I acquired over the years." Russo has also created propri- etary spice mixes and put in place a specifc cooking process so that franchi- sees simply have to follow the recipe. "I put together proprietary spice mixes and have a great process in place franchisees can follow. If they follow those steps, at the end of the day they're going to have a consistent product. With the system I developed, no matter who is coming in to work at Russo's, they're able to make the pizza the same way and the sauces the same way." "My whole goal was to open up Russo's New York Pizzeria brand serving fresh, authentic homemade meals for consum- ers," says Russo. "I didn't want to make pizzas with recipes that started by opening up a can of pizza sauce. There are tons of chains out there — that's what they do — pre-made pizza topping, pre-made sauce and pre-made dough. That's what makes us unique and different from oth- er competitors. We do it right using fresh ingredients and making everything from scratch." This focus on fresh offerings and au- thentic Italian cuisine has led to success A Piece Of The Pie Russo's New York Pizzeria brings old school Italian favorites nationwide. Katie Sloan The interior design of Russo's locations is upscale, with dark woods, vibrantly colored walls and exposed brick. Russo's looks for end-cap opportunities in shopping centers in nice neighborhoods.

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