Friday, November 12, 2010
There have been a few rumors floating around lately about Joe Scordato’s restaurant Guiseppe’s Ristorante Italiano at 6060 N. Oracle Road. Those rumors — some of which were posted as a comment on this blog—implied that Joe Scordato had sold the restaurant, that the menus had been changed and that something strange and, well, sort of deceitful was afoot.
So we called Joe Scordato today. He was more than happy to talk with us about the restaurant, which he said he has not sold and which has not changed since he brought in long-time friend and employee Israel Velderrain to handle day-to-day operations.
Scordato said Guiseppe’s business plan never included him working 100 hours a week in the kitchen, which is what he’s been doing since opening in March. His original business partner walked away just months in, leaving Scordato with little choice but to work double-time to keep the place running.
“The restaurant wasn’t even my idea. I was approached by two guys, and I told them I was too tired and too old to be in the restaurant business,” said Scordato. “They said they wanted to run it, but wanted help with the recipes and concept.”
So now, with the restaurant a bona fide success, Scordato is handing more control over to the employees and letting the cooks do the cooking. He hopes to “phase himself” out as much as possible to redefine his role as more managerial and less marathon kitchen employee.
“This is my restaurant. It’s just that I’m a physically old man, and I can’t handle being there every minute of every day,” said Scordato, adding that his former hobbies of motorcycle racing and boxing resulted in more than a few broken bones over the years. “But Guiseppe's isn’t me. It’s my recipes, my idea, my concept, but it doesn’t mean that I have to execute every minute of it.”
Scordato also pointed out that while his brother, Daniel Scordato, is certainly behind the popular restaurant Vivace, he does none of the actual cooking. Yet the restaurant remains his because his concept, recipes and experience are undoubtedly what defines it.
For the time being, Scordato has been questioning regular customers to ensure his recipes are being executed properly and otherwise keeping things in line. He says he’s spent the better part of the last month training Velderrain, and that he’s still at the restaurant nearly every other day.
“I have to make sure it’s good, and I got to know because I gotta go in and kick some but if it isn’t,” Scordato said.
Here is where I get embarrassed for even having to mention something as trivial as this is about to be, but, alas, I must. Apparently this whole runaway rumor was sparked when someone noticed the braciole had been taken off the menu. A diner noticed this, asked a bartender about it and was told that the dish was taken off the menu when the restaurant changed hands.
None of this is true. The braciole was taken off the menu because it wasn’t selling and because it takes five hours to make.
“If I were to take you step for step making braciole, you would say I was insane to make it,” said Scordato while describing the arduous process he uses to make the dish. “It was the poorest-selling item on the menu, which I couldn’t understand. I got sick of making a ton of it and sending it home with the employees at the end of the night, so I took it off the menu.”