la-trattoria-with special message from tom

Special Edition

Normally, about this time, you would be receiving another issue of La Trattoria. As you know, the world is currently far from “normal,” yet I still want to touch base with you.

First, a brief update for those who have asked. Maureen and I are thankful that so far we and our extended family remain healthy. Regarding our family’s business, I want to let you know that our team continues to remain well and our company has stayed open to keep our customers who are in need of our products dependably supplied throughout this difficult time. Additionally, our growers are currently planting tomatoes and our maintenance crew is prepping our fresh pack cannery to operate as smoothly as always this summer.

That is enough said about us. What is most important to me right now is what is happening to you and the rest of our cherished restaurateur family.

The coronavirus pandemic has rapidly changed our world. In our personal lives, many of us or our loved ones have already been or will be touched in some way by this pandemic. Our hearts and prayers are with those who have already experienced loss.

Nobody saw this coming, not you and certainly not me. Nevertheless, all restaurateurs will be forced to navigate through a new world. I do not know what the “new normal” will look like, so I will not even begin to try to tackle that subject. Instead, I have chosen to touch upon something that I do know well – you, our customer.

My twenty-five years in this business have provided me the opportunity to interact with numerous independent restaurant owners and operators. Although I have found that every restaurateur is unique, I have also come to recognize and appreciate some fundamental similarities. There is no doubt in my mind that these shared traits are precisely why so many small independent restaurants continue to succeed in an industry that includes numerous large and sophisticated national chain restaurants. The traits I’m speaking of are as follows:

  • Resiliency
  • Determination
  • Passion
  • Competitiveness

Since I’m a big sports fan, I could not possibly miss the obvious similarities between these traits and the traits commonly found in elite championship level athletes, the rare few who are universally renowned as “Winners”!

Winners find a way to overcome unexpected and difficult situations. This pandemic certainly qualifies as unexpected and extremely difficult. However, it cannot alter or impact the basic traits that drive winners. Let me explain by using a sports example. I have no idea when the NBA will return to action; I also have no clue what the schedule might look like. However, I do know that when the NBA returns, LeBron James will be a dominant player who will have his team in contention for a championship. Why am I so confident of this? Because LeBron’s resiliency, determination, passion, and competitiveness are woven into the fabric of his soul and those traits cannot be taken away by any person or event.

My prediction for what the restaurant industry will look like after we re-emerge from these challenging times is similar to my NBA prediction. I do not know how the restaurant business will change over time. I also realistically recognize that some businesses which closed may not be able to reopen. Yet I’m confident that on the whole, independent restaurateurs will find a path to recovery and prosperity. My confidence stems from the fact that I understand how operational interruptions of any type can cause damage to a business, but I also know nothing can take away your Resiliency to overcome, your Determination to recover, your Passion to do the right thing, and your Competitiveness to be the best!

In life and in business, there are no guarantees of success. But I believe that we will get through these challenging times together. Knowing that we are taking on this challenge with you is something that I consider to be a true honor.

Until next time, Ciao!


Tom Cortopassi, President and Co-Owner

Messages of Hope From Fellow Independents

My name is Steve Rouse, and I have been the editor of La Trattoria since 1990. All of the stories, other than Tom’s column, are developed by me and the Independent restaurateurs they feature. Getting to know so many creative and driven restaurant families over the years has been the highlight of my career.

During this difficult time, I have been deeply touched by the community care and leadership that so many restaurateurs have demonstrated in recent weeks. By following social media posts, I have developed a better understanding of the daily challenges for restaurants as well as a reminder of the strength and resiliency of restaurateurs.

To quote restaurateur Anthony DeSousa (Anthony’s Real NY Pizza, in Estes Park, CO),

“In the darkest times for a person, it is best to give hope and spread happiness with gestures of love.”

Here are just a few social media posts that particularly touched me:

No questions asked
ANYONE out there who is in need of food, can’t afford groceries, or has young children that need to eat, come see us. We will provide the best we can, no questions asked…Any hospitals that may need food for clinicians on the front lines, DM me or call the shop.
Best Pizza, Williamsburg, NY

Hey Community – keep donating and we’ll keep making pizzas!
This is Chris from Liberty Hall Pizza just dropping off another batch of pizzas at the food pantry. We want to thank the people in our community who have donated. We are about halfway to our goal! Hey community – keep donating and we’ll keep making pizzas!
Liberty Hall Pizza, Lambertville, NJ

Please pass this to any family in need of food
Please pass this to any family in need of food. Thanks to our generous customers, we will be passing out 200 lunches at 11:30 at the middle school on Friday, March 20. Menu: Local RL Valley Roast Beef sandwiches with Kiser’s BBQ or Kindred Market’s Vegan Chicken Sausage Patty sandwiches, Shagbark Milling Potato Chips, Fruit Cocktail, and Red Delicious Apples.
Avalanche Pizza, Athens, OH

There will be shortages
We are aware there will be shortages at grocery stores during these trying times. On top of our normal menu offerings for delivery and carryout, we will be incorporating a limited variety of essential household items (milk, eggs, bread, toiletries, etc.) to our delivery menu. We can get these supplies from our suppliers so you can avoid the grocery store.
Ohio Pizza & Brew, Columbus, OH

It was another good day
It was another good day at Virgil’s Plate. Our Half-Baked Pizza Kits are feeding the people in the safest way we can. Brian sent me this beauty (pizza photo) and it made my day! Thank you very much Brian! Keep your pics coming!!!
Virgil’s Plate, Erie, PA

Keeping the love and pizza flowing
As of today, customers have donated 345 pizzas. With our matching, that equals 690 pizzas donated to surrounding hospitals. Thanks to everyone who has helped us keep the love and pizza flowing! The feedback we are receiving from our fabulous customers is heartwarming and the gratitude that nurses, doctors, etc., have shared keeps us going! It is a team effort and we could not do this without everyone’s participation. #communitystrong
Geraci’s Restaurant, Cleveland, OH

You have provided an amazing beacon of hope
Because of customer gift card purchases over the past few days, we will donate $51,000 directly to our team members to help meet their needs during this uncertain time. You have provided an amazing beacon of hope for all of us. We are so overwhelmed and humbled by your generosity. We look forward to welcoming you back into our restaurants as soon as we can. Thank you!
Sidewall Pizza Co, Travelers Rest, SC

Being kind to each other!
For every five pizzas sold, Bella Familia is donating one pizza to local medical staff. Customers can also personally help by selecting to donate a pizza. We will include your first name on the box of the donation pizza you purchased! Just select that option on our menu. We appreciate everyone supporting small business as well as being kind to each other!
Bella Familia, Rocklin, CA

Stanislaus Food Products - Health and Safety is Our Priority