2011 December: Five Questions

With more than 50 combined years of food industry experience, Angela Farias , along with her husband, Dave, own A-1 Pizza, which is celebrating its 34th anniversary this year. The Aquidneck Island pizzeria caters to a local customer base, as well as Rhode Island tourists.

Q: As A-1 Pizza celebrates its 35th anniversary, what has been key to its longevity?

A: The key to our longevity is hard work, quality, great tasting food and dedication to our customers. We enjoy our job, which makes a huge difference. It’s our loyal customers that have been coming back since 1976 with their families and now their children’s children.

Q: When did you take over the business from Tony and Voula Mandros? What elements of the business did you continue/what did you change, and why?

A: We bought the business 15 years ago, in 1996, when Tony and Voula decided it was time to retire. They wanted to keep it in the family, so they asked me and my husband if we would be interested in purchasing the business. We have all original recipes that my parents used, which made us famous for our sauces, pizza, and our hot oven grinders. If anything we had to diversify our menu to be more competitive. In 1976 Aquidneck Island had approximately three pizza places. Now there are over 30 establishments.

Q: You’ve taken home numerous pizza awards. Which holds the most value and how do the awards help your restaurant?

A: All of our awards hold great value for our place. Our most recent awards: Rhode Island Monthly for Best Greek Pizza, Newport Life Magazine for Best Pizza, and Newport Winter Festival Pizza Cook Off five-time winner for Best Cheese. We also have numerous awards from our local schools when they do contests. All our awards are people’s choice — and that in itself holds special value. Anytime a business is recognized by others for ‘Best Of’ or is voted ‘First Place,’ it shows dedication, value and quality.

Q: With nearly half of a million visitors to Newport, how do you capitalize on the tourist market?

A: Our targets are The Visitors Center, travel maps, The Best Read Guide and more. All these cater to the tourist industry. More than 50 percent of visitors will pick up one of these helpful guides during their stay here. We also go to hotels, Bed and Breakfast Inns, and local merchants — anywhere tourists may go. We believe that we establish diplomatic relations with visitors to Newport. We would like them to leave Newport with fine dining experiences and positive impressions so that they may one day return.

Q: A-1 Pizza has a diverse menu of Greek, Italian, Portuguese and American cuisine. How does the large inventory required for your wide menu impact your food costs?

A: Well, with over 175 items on our menu, we at A-1 Pizza take what we have and create new pizzas, wings, and main dishes. With over 25 different spices and a variety of sauces, we can take chicken and create so many different dishes with it. We do the same with our pizza. We not only have the traditional tomato sauce, but we create new pizzas using pesto, our homemade tzatziki sauce and our own white sauce to create new flavors to our menu. The list goes on.

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