In the modern economy, staying in businesses 22 years isn’t easy.
It’s especially tough for small businesses.
And it’s probably even tougher if you’re talking about a pizzeria in Tri-Town Plaza, Seymour’s under-developed and aging shopping center.
Yet Albert Zuncja isn’t just staying in business at Tri-Town, he just renovated his space to make it more inviting for sit-down diners.
The following is a Q&A The Valley Indy conducted with Zuncja over email Thursday.
Valley Independent Sentinel: First of all, how has Alberto’s made it through Seymour’s extended power outage? You’ve remained open for deliveries?
Albert Zuncja: A power outage is typically bad for small towns like Seymour because we tend to take longer to get back up to par. Thankfully, we have bought a generator that’s strong enough to power the whole kitchen and all of our refrigeration systems. So our food remains in tact and we have been cleared by the health department to continue operating for pick up and delivery service.
VIS:This storm is particularly bad for you, because you’re planning a grand re-opening Saturday. What’s the status of Saturday’s event?
Zuncja: This storm couldn’t have come at a worst time. The power company said we should be back in full swing by late Friday night. If it doesn’t, then we will have to reschedule for the following Saturday. Hopefully we don’t have to because so many people are excited about our new dining room.
VIS: How and when did you open in Tri-Town Plaza?
Zuncja: My dad opened Alberto’s in July of 1996 after searching the Valley areas for a great location. We found this space vacant and met with the landlord who was kind and helpful in meeting our needs.
VIS: Describe the interior renovation Alberto’s has been going through. How much work was done?
Zuncja: Our old dining home was out dated for us. It was fine because our friends typically come for our delicious food, more so than for the look of the place. But it was time to bring new life inside. We added new walls, lights, colors, floors, ceilings, countertops, booths and tables. The red is romantic and inviting, and we wanted a beautiful home for everyone to love. So now it feels like a totally different experience. Our goal was to make our friends (customers) feel like they are eating at their own home, but in a restaurant setting.
VIS: Tri-Town Plaza is a frustrating issue for many Seymour residents because it has a lot of vacant space. Yet you’ve carved out a place there. What’s the secret to your success there?
Zuncja: We operate a small business in a small town. We provide a delicious product and outstanding hospitality. We make sure that you feel like you’re at your own home with your friends. As long as if you have a great product and service to offer, you can thrive in any market. We don’t need a giant shopping center to attract customers. We can do it here or in any area with our service. People will always love to eat great food and feel comfortable doing it. That’s our key to success. And our landlord has been super great and supportive to us and the other tenants here. He’s a great person. And this town was built on small businesses so we will remain a staple here for many years to come.
VIS: There are SO MANY pizza places in the Valley. How does one stand out?
Zuncja: Being different in the Valley is hard work because of all the good pizza places to eat at. I eat in Seymour and in the Valley all the time. But having a great hospitality service will always keep people coming back. Food is number 1, hospitality is number 2. If you have great food but a bad attitude, it’s never going to work out for you. But great food and a great attitude will always be a beautiful thing for people to appreciate.
VIS: How did you get into the pizza business?
Zuncja: We are Albanian and our parents came from a small town in Europe back in 1983, with two little kids. No money and no English language, they learned from our uncles, John and Vinny, who’ve been beautiful mentors in our lives. They came here during the 70’s and were kind enough to help us out. They taught my parents the ropes of this business and they ventured off themselves years later. Currently, my brother Gezim and I manage the business. It’s a great success story from this beautiful country of America with all its opportunity and support. We will forever be grateful for this land we call home!