Something I love to do when we are traveling is to keep an eye out for little businesses that look inviting and stop in to see what's going on. I've just been in South Florida. Not too far from the intersection of Alligator Alley (I-75) and Snake Road (get me out of here!) we spotted Trattoria Per Tutti. Althought it was just at 2:00, we still hadn't had lunch, so we stopped. Why here?
- The name was intriguing. An Italian-o-phile, I've been in a lot of trattorias but never one whose name translates to “cafe for all.”
- This being South Florida, there were Euro-style cafe tables outside, and even at 2:00 the tables were occupied – a good sign in a very small Florida town.
- The colors at the entrance were bright and inviting, the front area was clean as a whistle, and from the decor you had no doubt this was all about Italian food.
Those things brought us to Trattoria Per Tutti versus the other 4 restaurants we spotted in the same small strip mall. But here's how the restaurant really converted us to raving fans.
- When we walked up, we were greeted at the door and warmly welcomed inside. Only later did I spot on the front door that the place closed at 2:00 for lunch, re-opening at 5:00 for dinner. When I mentioned this to our server as he brought our food, he assured us it was no problem, that several of the staff hung around during the afternoon break anyway. His enthusiasm to serve us even right at closing was genuine and palpable.
- The food was uber-fresh and extremely good, truly Italian authentic. Trattoria Per Tutti wowed us, despite its out-of-the-way location. The bread was fabulous, as good as any bread I've eaten in Italy. Great product builds a business because great product is notable these days — you have to impress over and above normal.
- Our server was open and friendly, answering our questions about the restaurant and the family's hopes to build a loyal following. I love talking to entrepreneurs about their businesses, so I dove right in and within 10 minutes I knew their story.
- It's a family owned business, and the entire family had moved to South Florida from Chicago, where they'd been in business before.
- They both ran the trattoria and catered, and hoped to build a catering business in South Florida, but were finding that people entertained less.
- They'd been open for business about 5 months.
- It was hard to build a lunch-time crowd in their location as there weren't many businesses around, but they were doing well at dinner.
In short order, I was talking to our server about ways to bring in luncheon parties from the surrounding retirement communities, using on-line coupons, and building a Facebook fan pages. Rather than backing off or being defensive, the man brainstormed ideas with me while we ate. I promised to blog about the restaurant, telling him that I admire his family for relocating to an entirely new area and charging right ahead with re-forming their family business despite their out-of-the-way location and the current economy. They didn't curl up in fear. They opened a large, comfortable, well-appointed restaurant and are all pitching in to make it work.
Trattoria Per Tutti will make it because of enthusiasm, openness to their customers, and a great product. So here's my plug for them….if you are outside of Naples, Florida and need a meal, find them and indulge. Their website is http://www.trattoriapertutti.com, and they're located at 15215 Collier Blvd, Unit 324 outside of Naples. I'm betting if you called
for directions (239-354-9955) you'd be meet with the same openness and enthusiasm we were, even if is almost 2:00 in the afternoon.