By Christopher Tenpenny
Mazzio’s Italian Eatery has been a local favorite for many years in Harrisonville and the local support led to a big 2019 for the restaurant as the local eatery won three franchise awards.
Every year, Mazzio’s gives out awards to their top franchises from across the country. The awards include: any store to break $1 million in sales, the top three in sales growth and the top three is customer loyalty. The Mazzio’s in Harrisonville won all three awards.
Mazzio’s franchise owner Andy Copeland has been running the restaurant for 26 years and this is the first year the restaurant broke $1 million in sales. While the sales numbers are quite an accomplishment, Copeland said it would not be possible without one of the other awards.
“The customer loyalty award is the most important to me,” Copeland said. “I believe that is what allowed me to win the other two, by making sure I’m taking care of my customers and being loyal to this town. We support the schools, support the local organizations and all that is a big deal to our customers.”
The customer loyalty award was introduced seven years ago, and it is the first time Copeland’s restaurant has won the award. It can sometimes be difficult to get happy customers to fill out surveys, but Mazzio’s has found a way.
Not only can information be found on receipts but also on the pizza boxes themselves. Customers also get the added bonus of a free side or a discount off their next purchase after completing a survey. This gets customers to interact more with surveys and allows them to leave positive (and negative) reviews.
The Mazzio’s chain originated in 1961 in Tulsa by Ken Selby. Selby wanted all his stores to treat their customers as more than customers, something Copeland has emphasized in his restaurant.
“One of Selby’s sayings was, ‘every time that door opens, treat that person who walks in like you would if they came inside your home,’” Copeland said. “They are not only customers, but they are our guests. I think that shows from our staff that we are preaching the same thing.”
Copeland claims his staff knows over 100 customers’ drink orders the second they walk in the door. They want people to feel special and treat the guests and staff as a family. Some customers even refer to the restaurant as “Andy’s Place,” due to how long, how successful, and how kind Copeland has been while running the restaurant.
“Whenever I hire someone, I tell them they aren’t becoming a part of a team, but a family,” Copeland said. “I will treat you as good or better as you treat me. I try to create an environment where people enjoy coming to work and for the most part, I think we have done that.”
Mazzio’s was off to an even better start in 2020, but COVID-19 forced things to slow down, as was the case for many restaurants across the country.
“What’s disappointing is this year we were starting out even better,” Copeland said. “In January and February, we were up double digits in percentage from the year before. Then COVID hit and we had to close down in the middle of March and didn’t open back up until the middle of May. Since then, things have been going great, but it’s been an entirely different environment.”
Dine-in may not be what it was in 2019 but carry-out and delivery still remain popular. We will have to wait and see how Mazzio’s fares for 2020, but we can expect customer loyalty to remain a big factor in Mazzio’s success.