Guest Blogger: Anthony Spinato on the Spinato's Experience

Fifty years ago, my parents pursued their dream of entering the restaurant industry. Despite having minimal operational knowledge, they possessed invaluable skills in providing unforgettable guest service.

ken and elaine

When I was growing up, my big Italian family always made sure we were well-fed with delicious meals. They put so much care and effort into cooking and serving food for everyone to enjoy."

My earliest memories of going to work at the restaurant with my dad are filled with pictures of my father, mother, and grandparents working day and night to prepare for each shift. This preparation was no different than if you visited our home for a holiday gathering or a weeknight dinner. 

My mother always began prepping the house for holiday gatherings three days in advance, starting with cleaning the dining room table, arranging her best dishware, and setting the table perfectly.

Family Dinner

Usually, we got in a lot of trouble if we walked into the dining room after it was cleaned and set to perfection. You can say there were a few wooden spoons cracked on my culo (butt in Italian)! 

Then came the food.

Homemade dishes like polenta, cookies, biscotti, and my favorite pasta gnocchi with Bolognese. The gnocchi sometimes took all day depending on how many family members were coming over; it was unforgettable and a labor of love. 

The day of the dinner or celebration included tidying up the house one last final time. Then came the "talk" from my dad. It was a reminder of how to greet our family or guests. We were expected to show them that we anticipated their arrival, such as running out to the driveway when we saw their car pull up or getting to the door to open it if we missed it. 

There was no such thing as a wave to someone if we were watching a sports game on TV when they arrived. We got up, hugged, and kissed them, and welcomed them. We sat for hours, talking, connecting, laughing, and creating memories, all in a comfortable place, sharing great food. When it was time to say goodbye, we walked them out and said the 15-minute Italian goodbye, loaded with more conversation, planning the next get-together, and more hugs and kisses.

Our way of showing love, gratitude, and respect towards visiting family and friends was very Italian, from our attention to them to our food preparation, table, and home. Today, we call this style of service the Spinato's Experience.


Undoubtedly, this could date back countless generations in our family, as it was modeled and then learned. On November 9, 1974, our first day of business, it was felt by our first and ONLY guest that day. I know for a fact that the guest only purchased a soft drink for $0.69, not a pizza, even though I wasn't born yet.


For many years, I observed my mother and sister providing Spinato's Experience to numerous guests. Whenever my mother welcomed a guest at their table, she never introduced herself as an owner but instead asked about the guests, where they were from, and how they found out about Spinato's. She would interact with children, make them smile, and engage in conversation with them.


It took our family quite some time to become good restaurant operators, but we knew how to serve our guests from day one. We never stopped to recognize that this was something we did until it was time for my mom to retire, and we began to expand. Our biggest fear was who would care for our guests like mom did. How do you train that? How do you explain that? What do you call that? 

In the 1990s, when we opened our second restaurant and mom started to work less, we documented the Spinato's Experience. Simply put, we explained to our new team members during orientation that the experience was similar to how we would take care of you if you came to our home for a meal.

From the time a guest arrives until they leave the restaurant, everything we do in our kitchen and dining room leads back to how my parents prepped, served, and cooked for our friends and family at home. This is the Spinato's Experience, and we continue to extend our family's tradition of excitement to our guests to this day.


Mangia Bene

~Anthony Spinato