Wisconsin Union Directorate Cuisine hosted Tutto Pasta owner Joe Perkins at their weekly meeting Tuesday to discuss what it takes to own and operate a restaurant.
Perkins has lived the life of a McDonald’s employee, military cook, restaurant tycoon and is currently a father of five. He’s owned a series of restaurants, with Tutto Pasta being one of his most recent endeavors.
With three floors of seating, Tutto Pasta has been one of the most popular restaurants on State Street for 16 years, serving authentic Italian food to lines that stretch out the door on weekends.
Perkins was called in a few years ago to help manage the restaurant’s finances and soon after, he bought the restaurant.
With an MBA in Business and a Master Chef Certificate, Perkins knows the odds and ends of the food industry. He began his presentation with three words: Plan, people and profit. The owner believes the foundation of owning a restaurant is planning, and more specifically, motivation.
“Don’t pick the restaurant business because you think it’s cool and you can make fast money,” Perkins said.
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Perkins affirmed that if you put the profit before the plan, there is no way you can operate a successful restaurant. He explained the economics of a restaurant, from paying taxes and repairs to the napkins and plates on the table. Budgeting and saving money is key, he said, especially in the face of natural disasters.
Perkins said many restaurants went out of business during last year’s floods because they didn’t have enough money to support repair costs.
Perkins spoke a lot on the value of economics and mechanics, but he declared that nothing is more important to a restaurant than its people. Perkins mentioned two important facts regarding employment.
His first point stated that the hostess and dishwasher are the most crucial members of the restaurant environment — they are the first and last impression.
His second point not only summed up his presentation, but also his motto toward management.
“If you ever want to get a true gauge on a restaurant, ask the staff what they think of their boss,” Perkins said.
Tutto Pasta is expanding its menu to include more protein and more options for lunch. This year, Perkins plans to connect with the University of Wisconsin campus, offering coupons and deals to cater to college students.
He’s currently advertising all-you-can-eat pasta on Monday nights and $7 pasta lunches. Perkins is also trying to increase business during lunchtime, and he hopes the deals will encourage more UW students to come to his restaurant.
Tutto Pasta is a fine restaurant with delicious food and a clever business plan, but it would not be what it is without the brilliant mind behind it.