Chefs may debate the value of a cooking-school degree, but Ryan DiFranco, owner of DiFranco's, which I review this week, has no regrets about school of another kind. "I use a lot of the stuff I learned in business school," he says, everything from supply-chain management to inventory control to marketing.
It's in the last area that DiFranco's has taken a noteworthy approach. See also: - Best Italian Restaurant 2013: DiFranco's - This tiny spot is creating big buzz -- and flavors - Photos: Behind the scenes at DiFranco's
"Instead of opening the doors and saying, 'Hey, I've got this new Italian thing,'" he says, he chose to start out at a farmers' market. There, a year before he opened his own spot, he tried out recipes for pestos and sauces, some of which eventually made it onto the DiFranco's menu. (The current bestseller is an artichoke-cilantro pesto, which is on the new summer menu.)
"I don't like doing print or online marketing," he explains. "My thoughts are if you try my food, you're more likely to come to the restaurant."
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Given how much his business is expanding -- he now exhibits at three markets and expects to add a second employee dedicated to market operations next year, and "the restaurant is growing faster than I can keep up," he says - it's safe to assume that DiFranco was one pupil who paid attention in class.