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Have you heard of a ‘gnoccheria’? Just as a ‘pizzeria’ specialises in pizza a ‘gnoccheria’ specialises in gnocchi, the Italian dish that has warmed many hearts and bellies. Co-Founders of Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers, Ben Cleary-Corradini and Theo Roduner, have seen business growth from a single market stall to eight locations establishing Australia’s first gnoccheria and the world’s first gnoccheria chain. Here’s some of the secret sauce they’ve learned along the way.
Ingredients: A love of Italy and gnocchi
“I come from an Italian-Australian family and I’ve always been inspired by Italy,” says Ben Cleary-Corradini, who takes care of commercial affairs for Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers. Theo Roduner, Ben’s business partner and head chef, knows the ins and outs of Italian food. “He was a chef in an Italian restaurant for over 15 years in a fine dining capacity,” says Cleary-Corradini.
Learning – test and niche: Cleary-Corradini advises everyone to test their concepts before investing heavily and his experience shows that a niched business can be gold. “There were so many who told us that a one-product business is not going to work but if you do one thing well, you get better and better at it.”
Entree: Market stall
“We started at a farmer’s market and found that people were going crazy for gnocchi,” recalls Cleary-Corradini, noting that not every aspect of the business was as smooth as the gnocchi sauces the two friends were dishing up. “That initial period, where we had no start-up capital, we were basically working on the cash flow from week to week and not paying ourselves a wage for the first six months,” says Cleary-Corradini.
Learning – backing yourself: “There were hard times at the start, but they were fun times as well, because we were still experimenting,” says Cleary-Corradini. “Believe in yourself and don’t listen to naysayers.”
Starter: Opening the first Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers store
Despite these first difficult years, the enthusiasm of the market goers gave Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers the confidence to open a store. “We got a cult following at the markets and that gave us enough confidence to say ‘Yep, it’s time, let’s open a store’,” says Cleary-Corradini to the art of making and selling fresh Italian Gnocchi.
It was at this stage that Cleary-Corradini discovered that Tyro solutions could provide speed, support, and integration. “When my merchant facility fees were so high, I started to question whether there was a better alternative,” he says. “Other café and restaurant owners that use Tyro all talked very positively about it.”
Learning – the art of delegation: “We’ve had some really loyal people around us who we’ve trained up to the point where some of our managers of our restaurants are doing it better than we are,” says Cleary-Corradini. “I think the art of delegation really separates who stays a one-store location versus getting to that five, six, or 10 store locations level.”
Main course: Growth in business opportunity to eight locations
The pair’s confidence in their delicious gnocchi bore fruit as the business stabilised. “After about year three or four, it really started to pay off,” says Cleary-Corradini. “Then we were in a position to grow the business.”
Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers watched their growth through their Tyro App. “You can log in and see transactions on the go, anytime, even seeing how different locations are performing on a minute-by-minute basis,” says Cleary-Corradini, adding, “it provides really great data, historically, that we can then use to make better decisions on when peak times are.
We can get information from recent transactions that we might be querying to see that it actually went through or not. So it’s an incredibly useful, easy to use app. I found that awesome!”
Learning – seek advice as business grows: “When you start to grow, that’s when you need to realise you can’t do everything, that you need advice and help,” says Cleary-Corradini. “For us, this meant getting advice around strategic planning, cash-flow management and expansion strategies. Getting good advice is the best way to move forward properly.”
Seasoning: Challenges and industry trends
“The most obvious change in hospitality over the years has been third party delivery providers; they’ve really turned the whole business model of hospitality around,” reflects Cleary-Corradini, who spotted this trend early and jumped on board. “We’ve built a really good business just around Uber Eats, Deliveroo, DoorDash, and Menulog.”
Learning – understanding market trends: “Don’t complain about high delivery fees, build them into your pricing modelling,” suggests Cleary-Corradini, who notes that he loves Tyro’s functionality around integrated transactions (the brothers use industry POS, Lightspeed). “It’s very practical, easy to use, and it works incredibly fast.”
Dessert: Future plans
“We’re extremely excited because the dining market’s back,” says Cleary-Corradini of this post-COVID lockdown time. “We’re looking to grow to around 30 stores in the next five years, mainly on the Eastern seaboard, then we want to hit the Melbourne market.”
Learning – step-by-step: “We’ll take this one step at a time and do each one properly,” says Cleary-Corradini. “We don’t want to be one of those businesses that’s fallen over because of its speed. We don’t want to grow for the sake of growing.”
Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers are going from strength to strength, all supported by Tyro EFTPOS solutions. “I’d absolutely recommend Tyro to other small, medium, and scaling businesses,” says Cleary-Corradini.
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