Thursday, June 19, 2008

May Success Story: Gloria's Little Italy

Gloria's Little Italy
Owner: Gloria Bonfanti
279 East 300 South
Provo, Utah

Gloria Bonfanti grew up on the Marina Di Pisa Coast in Italy. Her family has been in the restaurant business for three generations. Her grandfather owned many restaurants in the area; and her father, in turn, growing up with thirteen brothers and sisters, started up his own restaurant on the Pisa Coast. Growing up, Gloria learned her dad’s different recipes and experimented with them on her own. Gloria moved to the United States eleven years ago with her family, and settled in Utah. She always had an urge to start her own restaurant.
Nine years ago, Gloria took a cake decorating class at BYU. She began working at BYU in their catering department, and then began catering parties on her own. At this time, she found a great location for her own restaurant, but she only had one week to sign the lease, she passed because the timing wasn’t right. She feared the overwhelming thought of owning her own business in a foreign country, and the time commitment that would take her away from her three small children. Over the next six years, while catering for others, people would constantly ask her why she didn’t start her own business. There was no real authentic Italian food available in the county, and the dream of owning her own restaurant kept recurring to her.
Gloria and her family again started looking for a location to open a ‘trattoria’ or small family styled restaurant. It was important for her to use authentic Italian meat and cheese, as well as gelato. Gloria investigated several different locations. She was interested in a location in Riverwoods Mall, and other outdoor malls; but the banks would not loan her enough money to start. Then Gloria stumbled onto the small building in Provo that she had fallen in love with six years before. The building was available again, and the bank loans finally went through. The only stumbling block this time was that the landlord of the business had little faith in Gloria’s business model. They felt that Gloria did not have enough experience to succeed, but they still accepted the rent money and Gloria readied the building to launch.
At the same time, Gloria’s eldest daughter, Letizia, was attending BYU. She heard of the SBDC in one of her classes, and they signed up for an appointment to meet with Ken Fakler. Ken assisted them in writing a well established business plan, and confirmed his confidence in Gloria, her family, and her dream. Gloria says, “Ken pushed me and gave me confidence to do it. He is a nice man, hard working, knows how to do his job.” Ken assisted with the Business Plan and proforma budgets for 3 years; and finally they were able to get the business running.
Gloria and her family visited the local restaurants to compare prices and services of the competition. She found suppliers to import fresh meat and cheeses from Italy; and found the correct ingredients to make the perfect Gelato. Gloria’s dream of eleven years had finally become a reality. Gloria has one hint that she would like to give anyone starting a new business, “Have one goal you want to do in your life- and do it! That one opportunity is so great and you have a blessing. If you will use your talent you will be successful in life, in spirit, and financially.”
Gloria involves her whole family in the business. All three children ranging from 13 to 25 years old and her husband, Mauro, take full responsibility in running the family restaurant. Their future plans are to expand to another location serving quick deli sandwiches and desserts to go. But for now they are happy with their lovely ‘trattoria’ and deli.