Piero Lisio Interview
(Little Venice Restaurant)
Since 1946, Little Venice Restaurant has been serving authentic Italian dishes to the greater Binghamton New York area. Little Venice prides itself on its original family recipes, specializing in homemade pasta, a variety of Italian and American entrées and most notably their famous homemade tomato sauce.
And now that tomato sauce can be found on the grocery shelves in central New York.
Piero Lisio co-owner of Little Venice Restaurant spoke with us about his pasta sauce.
Q – Piero, it looks to me like you’re trying to run a restaurant at the same time you’re trying to market your pasta sauce.
A - Correct.
Q - You got two full-time jobs then don’t you?
A - Essentially yes. Maybe two and a half (Laughs).
Q - As a partner in the restaurant, what does that mean? What are your job duties?
A - I run most of the day to day operations of the restaurant. I do hiring, scheduling, ordering. I manage the dining room a couple nights a week. A little bit of everything.
Q - When did you get into the pasta sauce business?
A - We started manufacturing the pasta sauce in December 2013.
Q - I saw for the first time your pasta sauce on the shelves of Price Chopper in Syracuse, New York. Your sauce is next to Prego. What’s interesting about that is for a new sauce your put at the bottom of the category.
A - Right.
Q - Ideally it’s eye level, but you’re a little above eye level. Did you have to pay extra for that?
A - We did pay a slotting fee to get into the stores. We did not have to pay extra per se for that spot. We got incredibly lucky. Price chopper has been very good to us with our short relationship. We had somebody that had some contacts in price chopper that was really on our side. They saw the product and saw some of our sales data from some small stores and were impressed by it and they’ve really gotten behind our brand.
Q - Is Price Chopper the only supermarket in central New York carrying your pasta sauce?
A - It’s the only chain. In the Syracuse market I’m also in Spiros and Lombardi’s.
Q - You only have one flavor on the grocery shelves?
A - Right. At this time we only have one sauce that we make.
Q - What are you doing, besides talking to me, to get the word out that Little Venice Restaurant has a pasta sauce out?
A - We use Facebook. We have over 8000 fans on our Facebook page. So we put it out there. We have a direct mail list of I think were about 25,000 households at this point. Will put it in our newsletter that we mail. We mail a quarterly newsletter to our guests. We have over 6000 email addresses so; will email blast information about the sauce. Then will rely on the stores themselves. In price chopper’s case they do a program called chopped with quarterly sale items and so will go on sale in the stores and get into their flyers to promote to their base.
Q – Is the sauce only available in New York State or is the reach further than that?
A - We have a handful of stores in Pennsylvania as well.
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