Quality pays off
Some restaurants survive hard
times by cutting costs, not corners
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
The restaurant industry has been
thinned by the recession, but among the survivors
are some names familiar to generations of central
Ohio diners: JP's Barbeque Ribs and Chicken, TAT
Ristorante di Famiglia, Ding Ho and Terita's Pizza.
If you ask their owners the
secrets to their longevity, don't expect mention of
secret recipes or clever marketing. The maxims are
� Become part of the neighborhood.
� Provide good food at a
� When times get tough, cut
expenses where you can but don't ever cut corners.
"We're part of the neighborhood,
and the people know that we're here for them," said
Jimmy Corrova, 74, whose father, a Sicilian
immigrant, started a restaurant in 1929 in Flytown,
now known as Victorian Village. Corrova's TAT once
included four restaurants, but Corrova dialed back
in the mid-'70s for health reasons and focuses now
on a single restaurant at S. James Road and
"We help out with food, donations
and support for different groups," Corrova said. He
even provides food for mourners at a nearby funeral
home if the family can't afford it.
At JP's Barbeque, J.P. and Carole
Makar have lived their motto, "We Feed The People,"
for all of J.P.'s 46 years in the business.
"We've always had a menu where you
could have a slab of ribs or a hot dog so people
could always find something to eat at our
restaurant," said Makar, who with his daughters runs
two stores, the original at 1072 E. Main St. and a
restaurant and catering center at 2000 Norton Rd.,
next to Bolton Field.
"And if somebody came in and
didn't have enough for a hot dog, he'd probably end
up with some food," daughter Carol Makar added.
value -- both of the customer and of the product --
is king. Tom Iannarino learned the meaning of value
from his dad, Gus, who opened the store at 3905
Cleveland Ave. in 1959.
his dad taught him two things: "Treat the customer
like gold," and, "if you cheapen the product, you're
going to hurt yourself."
"What's kept us
around so long is the quality," Iannarino said. For
example, "we make our own sausage. We pick up the
pork down at Falter's every couple of days. There's
no junk in it.
"We could have
saved a lot of money on product, but we stuck with
the higher quality through good times and bad, and
it's paid off."
"Keep your quality up all the
time. You can cut managers' time and maybe some
hours for others. But buy quality food -- although
you look for bargains."
Stephen Yee has learned how to
trim costs at Ding Ho, 120 Philippi Rd., without
disturbing the product that his grandfather Clifford
Yee entrusted to him.
"We offer half-price specials on
certain days," Yee said. "It lowers our profit
margin even to zero, but that's to keep the
To deal with the bottom line, he's
watching overhead and cutting hours. Waitresses
vacuum their own stations now, and Yee takes his own
truck to pick up supplies to avoid delivery charges.