Provino’s restaurants have been Georgia’s favorite family-style Italian eatery for over 30 years. Scott Garner, one of Provino’s owners, sat down with marketing Iceologist, Heidi, revealing how Provino’s has made mouths water for decades.
The Iceologist: Most restaurants fail in just a few years. How has Provino’s stayed on top since 1977?
Scott: We put out a consistent, tasty product. We’re not fine-dining, we’re family style and we’ve learned how to make people happy. We pride ourselves in our customer service and our wait staff really know how to do their jobs well. Our kitchens are consistent, always delivering good meals.
The Iceologist: You have 9 locations now. Are they all corporate owned or franchised?
Scott: All our restaurants are company owned. This helps with our consistency. We’re a big operation, but we run it like a mom & pop.
The Iceologist: How many people do you employ?
Scott: About 475. Half of our waitstaff have been with us 20 years. We have generations of families working for us. For example, mother is a waitress and son is a busboy.
The Iceologist: Tell me about your customers. Are most regulars?
Scott: We have a lot of regulars and our primary customers are families. When we’re looking to open a new location, we always look for areas near schools, then we know we’re hitting our primary target customers. Provino’s staff is friendly from the moment a customer walks in the door, and this keeps customers coming back.
Our biggest competition is Olive Garden, so we keep our prices just below theirs. And our food is a lot better! Our sales top theirs in every market we share.
The Iceologist: What are your signature dishes?
Scott: The basics. Spaghetti and lasagna are always top sellers. And we have some delicious vegetarian options too.
The Iceologist: Before you choose Easy Ice, did you own or lease ice machines?
Scott: We owned most of ice machines. Years ago we leased, but it got to point where the ice machines were going down and we were on hook to buy ice. It always took so long to get ice machine repairs done. That’s when we decided to try owning.
The Iceologist: What were some of the issues with owning a commercial ice maker?
Scott: The upkeep and repair costs were eating us alive!
The Iceologist: Ice is critical, but ice machines are fickle. How have Easy Ice subscriptions changed your operation?
Scott: You guys brought us brand new restaurant ice machines that produce enough ice for us. We haven’t had to go out and buy bagged ice once since we’ve had your subscriptions. It’s working out so well, we plan to get more. And, subscriptions are just easy.
The Iceologist: What’s the best operational tip you can give to restaurant owners and managers?
Scott: Restaurants are made up of small details. And if one small thing goes arry, you can sink the operation. That’s why we always have an owner on site — we can watch for all those small things. Owners (and managers) need to interact with customers daily. Running a restaurant is a lot more than bean-counting. Customers feel good seeing an owner or manager on the floor.
If you’re heart’s not into your customers, your restaurant won’t succeed.
About Provino’s: 8 locations in Georgia and 1 in Chattanooga, TN. Authentic Italian favorites served with Provino’s famous salad and garlic rolls. Early dinner specials available before 6pm.
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