The Spinatos experience began in Ahwatukee Foothills on March 28, but the business is still trying to keep up with the crazy amount of popularity they’ve been receiving. Their secret for success is solid recipes and lots of Italian family love.
“My sister and I have grown up in the business with our parents and grandparents,” said Anthony Spinato, part owner of the booming pizza business. “We were learning by observation. We learned from that what we call the Spinatos experience. My mom and grandma - everyone treated customers like family.”
Their level of service has helped the company grow for more than 30 years. They’re headquartered in Tempe where their central kitchen makes dough, sauce and desserts for all five locations to keep consistency throughout.
The newest location in Ahwatukee Foothills is by far their largest and may get even bigger soon. Spinatos took over the old Chili’s building at 48th Street and Chandler Boulevard. They needed a larger building to fulfill the requests they were getting for private parties, but realize now it may not be big enough. They plan to add more square footage onto the back of the building to give themselves more prep room.
“We need a prep kitchen that we can just be in the whole time, rolling dough, cutting dough, making pesto, cutting cheese,” Anthony said. “It was really hard to anticipate what this would be like and how it would operate. We realized early on we need more storage room and more space to work all day long.”
The Spinatos hoped to have most of the restaurant open during the week but be able to close off their private party room on slower nights. So far, they say they haven’t had a chance. They’ve been busy every night of the week.
“It’s been excellent,” Anthony said. “The community has accepted us as beautifully as I could have ever hoped for. We’ve been extremely busy. My sister lives in the area so we knew the demographic and we really feel like we just fit right in and they just accepted us with open arms. It’s just a blessing to be in that situation.”
Spinatos also extended its menu for the new location. With a larger space they wanted to offer customers more choices. They hired a new chef for the project and worked for about a year-and-a-half to perfect the recipes. Right now Ahwatukee is the only location with the extended menu.
The company knows its authentic recipes made from scratch set them apart, but they also hope to be recognized for their level of service.
“Finding the right people is everything,” Anthony said. “It doesn’t matter what goes on the table. If you don’t have the right person to represent what it is you’re doing it’s just forgettable.”
The company spent weeks interviewing and trained 110 employees at the new location for 14 days. They even had mock services with family and friends to practice great customer service.
Treating customers like family has always paid off for the Spinatos, and especially Anthony. His wife’s family were regular customers for years before they started dating.
“I just remembered how his family was and how they treated everybody,” said Jamie, his wife. “They always made everyone feel welcome and part of the family. I had to marry him.”
Jamie ended up going to culinary school after she married Anthony and graduated with honors. She helped come up with some of the recipes for their dressings and desserts at Spinatos.
Now the company has a lot going on. They’re beginning to can their sauces, which will be sold at their stores and soon in Fry’s grocery stores. They’re still deciding whether or not they’ll take the new extended menu to their older stores or just focus on opening new stores with the new menu. The Spinatos have no plans to open any new locations as of now, but they’re looking towards the West Valley.
“Going from small to big you don’t want to sell you soul,” Anthony said. “It has to feel like us and like Spinatos. We have to make sure we don’t lose sight of what we are. We don’t want to be that company that has 100 restaurants. I want to do them one at a time and make sure they’re all done the right way.”
For more information on Spinatos, visit spinatospizza.com or visit the Ahwatukee Foothills location at 4848 E. Chandler Blvd.