We celebrated a milestone last weekend: Mozzeria’s First Anniversary! Wow. So much has happened over the past year. I have definitely learned A LOT!
The First Night We Opened...
I look back to December 9, 2011. We didn’t know what to expect when we opened the doors to the public for the first time. We were so pumped up with anticipation and excitement … I remember worrying about thousands of little details: Would our rookie servers do a good job? Would customers like our unique pizzas? Do we put enough change in the cash drawer? I didn’t realize the magnitude of details needed to reflect our image, operations, quality and service.
Photo credit: Samantha Benedict
As we got closer to 5:30pm dinner service, we saw a long line form outside the door. We were touched to see our friends who were rooting for us actually stand outside waiting for us to open our doors. Their support meant everything to us. Naturally, our first dinner service wasn’t our best; we made some mistakes and we saw where we could improve some things.
Although I am a third generation restaurateur, there is no magic formula for running a successful restaurant. We have to keep responding to the multitudes of things happening inside and outside the restaurant.
Many people ask if we have hearing customers at Mozzeria, and how we communicate with them? Many hearing customers entering Mozzeria for the first time had no idea that it is owned and managed by a Deaf couple with many Deaf employees. Some customers felt awkward, and others were open-minded.
Photo credit: 3Matsumoto Photography
It becomes our job to make them feel welcome, and show how they could communicate – by pointing to menu items. It is much the same as when you are in a foreign country where no one speaks English. Some even were interested in learning a few signs such as "Thank you" and "Pizza". One customer suggested we add notepads. Then customers began writing questions, comments and telling stories about themselves. Kids found these notepads delightful as they could draw pizzas. Cute. The customers' feedback helped us along. We thank you!
Photo credit: Dyan Sue Kovacs
The menu has evolved over the past year, we tried different ingredients based on seasonal availability and what worked and didn't. Looking at our first dinner menu, we had 6 or 7 pizzas as compared to 10 pizzas on the current menu. We had wanted to start small and see customer reactions. As our confidence grew, we introduced unique pizzas either to the regular menu or as weekly specials.
When I discovered that Chef Bryan Baker is an expert in making pasta and cheese in-house, we decided to make everything in-house, not just the pizzas... even house-curing pancetta, our own Italian sausages, and roasting our ducks in the wood-burning oven. Aged cheese is an exception. We do make fresh pasta daily. As well as our desserts!
And Our Staff
Photo credit: Megan Malzkuhn/Dyan Sue Kovacs
I cannot tell you how proud I am of our team at Mozzeria. Nearly everyone came to Mozzeria without any restaurant work experiences. I wanted to give everyone a chance to work, and we provided training. Whenever I hired hearing people, they were usually a child of Deaf parents (CODA), sibling of Deaf adults (SODA), ASL students or had a Deaf girl/boyfriend or spouse. Having a “Deaf connection” is key. We also teach ASL to hearing employees. We all share a mutual goal – to ensure that every customer has a superb dining experience. We faced challenges in managing food and labor operational costs, and had to make significant changes but we all pulled together. They have come a long way in a short time, and they truly show their love for Mozzeria.
As I reflect on our first year, we have had an amazing year!
With deep gratitude,