TonyV's “Localicious” Anchors Community Awareness
Tony V's Pizza and Restaurant in Sudbury, Ontario is doing some interesting things. As an independent restaurant, they face challenges in competing against large chain operators.
TonyV's is experimenting and finding ways to grow their volume.
They may have found a way to blunt the impact of large chain marketing budgets. It's called S.H.A.R.E., which is Sudbury Hospitality Restaurant Entrepreneurs. SHARE's mission is "to share our passion for our profession. And, in turn, give back to our community by organizing key events to support a local charity".
Ryan Nesci, owner of TonyV's, is an enthusiastic member of SHARE. He explains his support and participation for this community focused marketing program.
"We have 14 members in the SHARE group and we are about to launch one of our popular fund raisers this month."
"Our promotional community marketing concept is called Localicious, and we have a web site. You can learn more about our approach at sharesudbury.com/localicious. Our current Localicious promotion is headlined "Winter Warmers." Winter Warmers is a promotion including 11 SHARE Sudbury member restaurants participating. The community fund raiser promotion runs from January 09 to February 05, 2017.
SHARE member restaurants are showcasing a special, delicious "prix fixe" lunch and dinner menu. SHARE's promotion will see monies raised donated to Sudbury's NEO Kids. NEO Kids is a dedicated medical campaign based at Health Sciences North regional hospital in Sudbury.
During the promotion visitors to participating restaurants will view promotional menu items. Servers explain that donations will be made by the restaurant from the customer's choice.
"I find that more of our customers are growing tired of same old, same old menu items from chain restaurants. Customers want something different, and increasingly they want something that is local."
"We decided to work together as a group to create more awareness of our locally owned businesses here. We will do two to three events like this, every year. Just working together may lead to more ideas and campaign promotions," says Ryan.
Ryan comes naturally to thinking local marketing and community focus. He grew up in his father's community focused butcher and grocery shop at D & A Fine Meats Ltd. Ryan's father taught him that community involvement was a natural part of doing business. Ryan bought the TonyV's restaurant operation, which was founded in 1997, in 2011.
"I grew up in the food business, and I guess I learned from being in the family business. Today, I work at whatever needs to be done, mostly front of the house tasks, but I do work in the kitchen when we are busy".
"Buying TonyV's restaurant was a logical decision for us. We had Nesci’s Catering Limited , which was based on my Dad's existing meat and grocery business. Adding a restaurant to our businesses was just a natural thing for us to do."
TonyV's is a 90-seat pizza and pasta restaurant with a strong take-out and pizza delivery business. In season, there is additional patio seating. The restaurant employs 37 staff. The Nesci’s also operate Nesci’s Express, which is a Grab & Go outlet in Sudbury, which sells coffee, sandwiches, and snacks.
"Our most popular menu items at TonyV’s are pasta and pizza, which is to be expected. But for our customers, one of the things we are most known for is that we make everything on our menu ourselves. Customers love knowing that what we offer on our menu is homemade. Even our desserts."
"We have a website and Facebook page, which is very active. We have someone assigned and they are paid to keep our social media postings current. I believe that a lot of our sales growth and repeat customers are coming from our efforts on social media".
"Social Media is working well for us. Local social media participation is probably the best way for local restaurants to compete with chains. We do capture customer email addresses, and we send an email to our customers with news about our menu promotions. We could do more, and we will".
But just posting on social sites is not enough by itself. You have to have community involvement and participation. The more we find ways to be involved in the community, the more it gives us something to promote on our social media pages. We created SHARE Sudbury to raise our community's awareness of independent restaurants. For local restaurants to compete with chains, you have to be involved in the community in a visible way. Our Localicious promotions do that for all of us".
"I think that consumers are growing tired of chain menus and are looking for something different. We independents have to find ways to promote how we are different. Consumers are beginning to realize that quality is in the independents’ offerings more than in standard chain menus. I think that consumers are prepared to give us more of their entertainment spend as a result".
"It is also important for us as independents to work together in our communities. We need to cooperate on promotions aimed at our local customers learning more about us." We have an interesting story to tell."
"I find UNIPCO beneficial to our business. I am just starting to get full refunds (rebates) now after having joined less than three years ago. UNIPCO is great, and Dave (David Tunstall), is great for us too. He is always around and available when we have a problem, which is really valuable to an independent restaurant like we are.
The pricing with UNIPCO is good, and everything with UNIPCO for us is really good," says Ryan.
"To grow more, we are going to do more for our customers. We are going to tell them what we are doing by investing in our local community where we all live."