Thusnelda wrote:How has La Rocca's survived this long? Roman Candle isn't the be-all, end-all of pizza by a long shot, but it at least has the requisite attitude for the neighborhood. I wasn't that impressed by La Rocca's when I stopped by, but that was several years ago. Still, it strikes me as being run by people who don't really know how to market a restaurant.
I have long thought that we have an odd relationship to food in this country. We confuse quantity for quality; popularity for excellence; and trendy wait staff wearing bling for good service. Luckily, at La Roccas, you are guaranteed a high quality meal served by friendly wait staff or often the owners themselves in an atmosphere of peace and warmth like you would find at home around the kitchen table, if people still ate that way.
Vito and his wife, the owners, are two of the most charming people you could hope to meet. They have spent 33 years in the business and have raised their family on what they have earned the honest old fashioned way. They were among the first people we met when we moved to the neighborhood, and we are glad to count them among our friends.
What they seem to lack in "knowing how to market a restaurant" isn't because they are fools. It is because they believe in delivering a quality product every time. What they have understood in three decades of being in the restaurant business is that you can't leave the restaurant in the hands of a "substitute cook" when you go on vacation just to keep the money coming in while you are away. If you close the shop, your customers will wait for you to get back with photos and stories to share; likewise, you won't have angered any new customers who were expecting the same quality that they would have gotten had you been there.
What they have understood in three decades of being in the restaurant business is that you can't over advertise just to draw people in to the shop if the shop is small and having people waiting out side the door would only anger otherwise repeat customers.
What they have understood in three decades of being in the restaurant business is that a faithful repeat customer filling the seat in their shop is worth far more than the curious foodie who only recently discovered the restaurant's existence thanks to an advertisement on the Metro bus, and who likely will never make their way back to the shop.
Most importantly, what they have understood in three decades of being in the restaurant business is that a good meal and good conversation delivered with excellent service and attention to detail is what makes for a good business and neighbor. Vito and his wife believe strongly in being good business people who work hard and who turn an honest profit. What they don’t believe in is short changing those people who put their faith in them at meal time.
The reason that La Rocca’s has lasted as long as it has is because they are just a darn good restaurant, and those of you who are reading this series of posts and think that they are doomed to failure, I encourage you to stop by and try a pasta dish, or one of their pizzas made-to-order. You’ll be back there, trust me.