Tutto handles crisis with consistent menu and improving business practices
What does a restaurant owner do when March, the best month in your business, is taken away by a virus? If you are Joao “Juca” Oliveira, owner and Executive chef at Tutto Pizza & Pasta, you pivot, make adjustments and plow on.
“We used to always do takeout and delivery, but making due without the dining room, and tourists, has been a challenge,” said Brazilian-born Oliveira. “The rents in Key Biscayne are very high, so losing two aspects of your business that you rely on makes it extra difficult. The great thing is how the community has supported us during this time.”
“We have been through hurricanes, 9/11, and other challenging situations. You get creative, reinvent, work 7-days a week. That’s what we do. This time is a little harder”
Oliveira said his business relies on a few really good months -- such as March -- to balance out the slower summer months. And tourists, he said, “are a huge part of our business; we have had weeks in the past when 80% of our traffic came from non-full-time residents.”
Doing quality takeout and delivery safely is not cheap. “The to-go containers are expensive,” Oliveira said. In addition, the new safety guidelines, while very much a necessity, add costs. Oliveira says that his glove supplier raised prices for a box from $38 to $63. “What are you going to do?”
When the county and village closed dining rooms in mid-March, Oliveira made some adjustments in personnel. His kitchen staff remains in place, but he had to lay off the service staff. Tutto Pizza & Pasta kept the same menu, but something added shortly before the pandemic – family meal plans – has proven to be a strong seller.
“People see the value,” he said. “You get a main dish, salad, and we throw in garlic bread. Four to six can eat for only $45.”
Tutto offers four options: Pear ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Milanese and spinach ravioli.
Oliveira added that the online ordering system, introduced before the pandemic, has been a lifesaver, responsible during some weeks for 80% of their orders.
The staff at Tutto is now preparing for the next phase of recovery, opening the dining room. There are county-mandated restrictions, but Oliveira is happy to oblige. “It's time to open,” he said, emphatically.
Among the changes: The floor plan is rearranged to place tables six feet apart. There will be individual containers for condiments. And Tutto will have a large wall menu so guests do not have to handle paper menus.
“We will be sure to follow all the rules, and will be strict with employees to make sure all safety protocols are adhered to,” Oliveira said. “I hate to work in a dirty or disorganized kitchen, so cleanliness and safety is something we always did. We are just going to do more now.”
Going forward, Oliveira sees opportunity for improving and offering better service. He also hopes some things can change. “I hope five percent of the people learned something. We have to learn.”
If you go, Tutto Pizza & Pasta is located in the Galleria Shopping Center at 328 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, You may reach them at (305) 361-2224
They open 7-days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. / open until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.