Restaurant Revisited: A Pie in the Sky at Aponte's Pizzeria
Facing nearly a quarter of a million dollars in debt, Tony Aponte looked to Robert Irvine and the Restaurant: Impossible team to give his Mason, Ohio, business, Aponte's Pizzeria, a second chance at success. Tony had been working in pizzerias since he was 11 years old and purchased Aponte's just eight years ago. But during that time, he hadn't made a single change to the menu. "I grew up on it, and I stick by it," Tony said of his food. Ultimately, it was this menu that Robert deemed to be the root of Aponte's downfall. "There's just no taste to anything,” Robert said simply, noting that the dingy decor and difficult-to-navigate entrance didn't improve the overall dining experience. With only two days and a $10,000 budget, Robert got to work on breaking down the self-described "bull-headed" Tony and transforming Aponte's into a thriving pizzeria once again. FN Dish caught up with Tony a few months after his business reopened to find out how it's doing today.
After a rocky start, Tony is adjusting to the changes at Aponte's. Robert's improvements have boosted the restaurant's bottom line, with a 60 percent increase in sales at the end of June.
Although a few of the old plates are back on the menu, Robert's custom-made dishes are still featured at the pizzeria. Tony tells Dish that nearly all of the customers are happy with the new offerings, especially the Salmon Tapenade and Chicken Parmesan.
The contemporary design has been well received by diners; as Tony explains, "95 percent of the customers love it."
Tony adds that he's micromanaging his team less now and is indeed more accepting of change than he was before Robert arrived. "I am looking forward to what the future will bring to [the] restaurant, my family and me."