18/01/2005 - 21:00

Longevity a measure of success

18/01/2005 - 21:00


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A DECADE in the hospitality business is good going by any measure, so former hotel broker Renzo Deleo must be doing something right.

Longevity a measure of success

A DECADE in the hospitality business is good going by any measure, so former hotel broker Renzo Deleo must be doing something right.

Mr Deleo founded Monte Fiore in 1994 (selling his share in 2001) and went on to establish popular award winning Mille Café in 1997.

Now he’s busy building up a similar reputation for Banca Café in Tuart Hill, which he opened in 2003.

Mille Café has won five consecutive ‘best cafe’ Restaurant and Catering Industry awards and a Gold Plate Award.

And that magic formula has had immediate effect at Banca Café, which already has its first Gold Plate Award.

The key to success, Mr Deleo says, is getting the right staff and keeping them there.

Easier said than done, perhaps, but it’s something Mr Deleo works hard to achieve.

His head chef Joe Fiorda, for example, has been with him for seven years, while floor managers usually stay for at least five years.

Mr Deleo has just replaced the former floor manager of five years at Mille Café with John Chadwick, who has spent the past four years at Giardini’s.

“The trick is to get the right staff in the right positions,” Mr Deleo says.

And in an environment where skills are often in short supply, Mr Deleo believes understanding and knowing the staff that work for him is invaluable.

“You have to find out their needs and wants. My manger at Mille didn’t work Sundays for a long time, I did it, and not many places will let people have the Sundays off,” he says.

“If you are close with them you can get a vibe that something is not right and you can try and fix it.

“I think the old school way of things, the ‘you will do this job or I will sack you’ is out; you just can’t do that.”

Mr Deleo says his skills as a salesman have been transferred to his business because he likes to read people and prides himself on recruiting people who will work within his team.

A committee member of the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association, Mr Deleo says more has to be done to address skill shortages in the industry.

“The government is very strict about us importing chefs but you have to get the skills in,” he says.

“We need to promote being a chef to the kids and get them into this business, otherwise where will be in another three or four years?”

Aside from picking the right staff Mr Deleo also likes to pick the right site, ideally not in high-traffic, high-rent areas.

Rather, he says, he likes to invest in restaurants where the property is cheap.

The strategy, of course, is to renovate and create a quality establishment that becomes a critical site as the area around it grows, as is the case with Banca Café.

It’s in a former bank site, situated within a small block of shops on Wanneroo Road.  And while it’s not exactly a hospitality strip, far from it in fact, Mr Deleo points to all the houses surrounding the cafe.

“About 10 years ago Tuart Hill had a stigma about it but now the city is just growing out and so there are a lot of professional people in the area; a townhouse will cost you $350,000 now,” he says. “Inglewood [where Mille Café is situated] is the same.

“You used to be able to get a house for $180,000, now it’s more like $450,000.”

And, the 140-seat restaurant is frequently booked out.

“It’s only going to get better in another one or two years,” Mr Deleo says.


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