22 Aug 2014
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Q&A With Nardelli's Grinder Shoppe Owners on 90th Anniversary

Local business has a feel good story to tell in a tough economy.

Q&A With Nardelli's Grinder Shoppe Owners on 90th Anniversary


Nardelli's Grinder Shoppe just celebrated its 90th year in business. Here at Patch, we believe that is a great feat and something worth our readers' time. So we sat down with the three Nardelli siblings, who oversee the business, to discuss everything from what makes them successful and how many more shops will they open to what it's like working so closely with your siblings. 

The following is from our recent conversation with Diane Troiano Nardelli, Marco Nardelli and Tony Nardelli. 

What are your general feelings about this being your 90th year in business?

 Typically second generation is where it ends at some point. The third generation is not common at all. So we’re proud of it. – Tony

Do you think there will be a fourth generation?

Tradition is very important to us. We have to do our job, we’re going to pass it along, and hopefully they will do their jobs. - Tony

What makes you want to get up and do this every day?

We have a huge sense of pride. And I also think our parents instilled a great work ethic and also were very proud of what they’ve done. So it’s nice to see us move forward. And hopefully there will be a fourth generation. – Diane 

It’s nice when you’re a business owner. What you put into it, you get out of it, rather than the bureaucracy of corporate. – Marco 

What is some advice you could give people who want to go into business? 

Never take your customers for granted. We treat it as if it’s the first time our customers are walking through the door. …There is a lot of competition; there are a lot of eateries. They chose you; they chose you for a reason. And don’t take that for granted. Keep your standards high, keep your customer service great, keep the place clean, and people appreciate that. – Marco

Why did you decide to franchise? (Note: Nardelli’s has two family locations in Naugatuck and Waterbury, while franchisees own Nardelli’s stores in Oxford, Southbury, Danbury, Middletown and a second store in Waterbury.)

We thought it was the best way to expand the brand. Franchisees come in as an owner. We find their heart is more into it as an owner. – Tony

People appreciate the franchisee opportunity because to do a startup is very difficult today. It takes at least two years to build your customer base, and with us, you’re already established. – Marco

How many more franchises can we expect?

We have two new locations that hopefully will be opening by the end of the year. We can’t talk about it at this point because the leases have not been signed. But we hope to have an announcement within the next month or so. - Marco

We’re going to revisit how many we have and how much we want to expand at the beginning of the new year. If you go too quick, sometimes that’s a problem. – Tony

We haven’t put a number on it. There are a lot of businesses out there who say we want to open 50 locations by the end of the year. We think that’s a huge mistake. We say let’s open one, two…so many at a time. Don’t put a time frame on it, however, see how they are performing, and take it from there. …If we expand too fast, we’re doing an injustice to the brand, we’re doing an injustice to the new location and we’re doing an injustice to our existing franchisees because they depend on the quality. – Marco

We’ve gotten a lot of inquiries out of the state of Connecticut. The reason we don’t leave the state is because we want the stores to be here close to us where we can give support as needed. – Marco

Is it tough working so closely with family?

We all have a common goal. We all know we’re passionate, so it works. - Diane

We have disagreements, and we have to make business decisions.  I think it makes for a healthy business. – Marco

Our mother (Rina) is still involved. She still oversees and develops new products. If something is out of place, she tells us and we address it right away. – Tony

We’re still learning from our mother every day. – Marco

Your business has always gotten local attention but it has also received a lot of attention on a state and national level in the past years. Why do you think that is? 

Being in a recession you hear all of these negative stories. I think people like our story because it’s a feel good story. We’ve done pretty well. We’re expanding; there are not a lot of businesses expanding today. I think that is why it captures people and it’s a feel good thing. - Marco 

Note: This is part 2 of 3. We plan to run a third part, a look back at the Nardelli's franchise in photos, over the weekend.

Read Part One of this story here.

Click here to view the Nardelli's website.

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