by Jerry Guarino
Mario and Luigi worked from
five until ten, twice a day in a brand name hotel
in San Diego. First, they worked from 5:00am
until 10:00am making breakfast and then they
worked secretly from 5:00pm until 10:00pm making
take out for guests in the hotel and others. I
need to explain.
Mario and Luigi were hired
by the hotel to make breakfast for the guests in
the hotel restaurant. More than just a
continental buffet you see in those chains, but
less than a full-service restaurant you see in
the finer hotels. No, the hotel only served
breakfast from 6:00am until 9:00am. After
breakfast, a maid came in to clean the kitchen
for the next day.
But Mario and Luigi, like
so many hard-working people, had to work second
jobs to provide for their family. At first, they
tried ride sharing, but the competition from Uber
and Lyft make this time not worthwhile. They
tried working in other restaurants, but the pay
wasnt enough and the hours werent
They asked the hotel
manager if she could keep the restaurant open for
lunch, but they were denied. Something about
insurance costs, regulations, and local tax
One day, Mario and Luigi
were having lunch together. Luigi, I cant
make ends meet. My wife is expecting another baby
and will have to leave her job.
Same here Mario. My
wifes company is moving out of town and
they are letting her go. What are we going to do?
You know. The kitchen
is just sitting there most of the day and night.
Yes, it is.
What if we were to
cook take out for the guests at night and deliver
to their rooms?
I dont think
the manager would let us.
Well, we wouldnt
Mario, the guests
would let that out. We would be fired.
No Luigi. I mean it
wouldnt be for service in the hotel. We
could put flyers in the rooms as if we were a
local pizza place and offer delivery. Then we
cook the food in the kitchen and deliver it to
the rooms. The guests wouldnt know the food
was prepared here. We could finish at 10:00pm,
clean up and still have time to sleep before
coming back to start breakfast.
Mario, youre a
genius. Lets try it.
So, Mario and Luigi created
flyers for pizza and pasta dishes and slipped
them under the guest doors in the afternoon. The
phone numbers were their cell phones and they
didnt put an address for the restaurant on
the flyer. They called their business Buon
Cibo which means good food. Luigis
cousin Tony delivered the food, hot and ready to
the rooms. Guests didnt always want to go
out for dinner after a long day sightseeing and
walking the wonderful beaches.
The first week was slow, as
expected. Only nine orders in a hotel with 100
rooms. But the second week it jumped to 24 orders,
then 51 and an all-time high of 72 one stormy
night. Bad weather is a key factor in all take
Then they started to get
requests. Making pizza and pasta was manageable,
but people started asking for salads, drinks and
even Mexican food too.
Oy vey Luigi. I didnt
think this would happen.
Good grief indeed
Mario. We cant handle that many foods, not
to mention the added costs for supplies and where
to put leftovers.
committed now. What if a guest started making
inquiries to management?
Or tried to find our
location, maybe calling the city to check on our
Should we just close
up, like some local business shutting down?
That would raise as
much suspicion as serving more foods.
Maybe we could
outsource the orders for Mexican food.
You mean get take out
from another restaurant and say it was from ours?
forgetting we dont have a restaurant.
Well, we have to do
something. People are starting to think we have
this great place to eat. I saw us listed on Yelp
and Twitter today.
All right. Well
put a few Mexican items on the menu and see how
it goes. We wont make any profit but at
least our customers will be happy.
The next day, the Buon
Cibo flyers included tacos and burritos,
just three of each. Mario and Luigi had no idea
what they were in for.
Once they offered tacos and
burritos, the orders transitioned from Italian to
Mexican. Within two weeks, 75% of the orders were
for Mexican and only 25% for pizza and pasta.
Their end of week profits were down 200% because
they couldnt resell the Mexican food for
more than they bought it for.
Maybe we need to drop
the Mexican food Luigi.
And working two jobs,
seven days a week is getting to be too much Mario.
The next day after
breakfast, the manager called Mario and Luigi
into her office.
Boys, you do a great
job at breakfast, but Im hearing about
guests ordering delivery from a restaurant called
Buon Cibo. Know anything about them?
No maam. Where
are they located? Luigi cringed when he
Dont know. But
I was thinking. Why should we provide customers
for some local takeout place when we can control
the profits from our guests?
So, I would like you
to consider coming back in to the hotel in the
late afternoon and preparing some dinner foods. I
could cover the cost of supplies and pay you
double what you are making now for breakfast.
Mario and Luigi nodded to
each other. That sounds great. We could do
Then its a deal.
Give me a list of supplies and you can start next
week. Ill promote it with the front desk
and make some flyers to put in the guest rooms.
Thank you, maam.
We wont let you down.
I know you wont
boys. And by the way, lets make this a
Mexican menu. You know, tacos, burritos, maybe
Dont you think
the guests would like Italian, pizza and pasta?
I dont think we
could compete with Buon Cibo. Have you
seen their reviews on Yelp and Twitter?
Cibo by Jerry Guarino
Copyright March, 2019 All Rights Reserved