Great Italian Cuicine Without Wait Essay

5559 Words Oct 17th, 2012 23 Pages
4277
APRIL 4, 2011

JAMES L. HESKETT
RICHARD LUECKE

Porcini’s Pronto:
“Great Italian cuisine without the wait!”
In January 2011 Tom Alessio, marketing vice president at Porcini’s, Inc., of Boston, was pondering issues raised by a potential expansion of his company’s restaurant business. The domestic market for full-service chain restaurants was nearing its saturation point at both in-city and shopping mall locations. The big chains were looking overseas for growth, but as a small regional player, Porcini’s had neither the resources nor brand power to pursue that option. It needed a domestic avenue for growth. Alessio had persuaded Porcini’s senior executives to consider opening limited-menu outlets,
Porcini’s “Pronto,” to
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Except during the recession of 2008–2009, Porcini’s had increased revenues and earnings every year. By yearend 2010, Porcini’s, Inc., operated 23 locations, employed 954 people (many part-time), and generated
$94.3 million in revenues. Its profit margin had risen to 4% from less than 3% the year before. Even as many competitors were suffering, Porcini’s was doing well.
The company’s senior executives attributed Porcini’s success to uniformly high-quality food and service at each location. That quality could be traced to the long experience of individual restaurant managers, supervisory personnel, and chefs, a relatively stable workforce, and to the recipes of Chef
Mariana Molise, who had won the coveted James Beard award while running the kitchen at New
York’s Catania Grille. On joining the company in 2006, Molise applied her culinary principles to
Porcini’s less-pricey menu and personally trained each outlet’s chef in her “flash cooking” techniques. Her signature vitello ala Mariana and pan-seared scallops with mushrooms had become favorites throughout the chain. “Twenty-three restaurants,” one restaurant critic told readers, “and each makes almost everything from scratch, using fresh ingredients and artful presentations.” And yet the average entrée cost only two or three dollars more than those of Olive Garden’s, a near rival.
As management saw it, attention to quality differentiated it from Olive Garden, and from more

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