Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach and I have both been around for quite a few years. Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach is almost 30 years old and I will bee…let’s just leave it at over 30.
Sometimes I miss the first location of Pappagallo’s in Indian Harbor Beach it was 1990 I was 24 years old and I was just getting started with a business that I had no idea would lead to a career that has lasted this long.
It was 1990 and my days started pretty much the way they still do, get up early, go by the restaurant to get bread started, do my morning errands, stop by the grocery store for a few odds and ends that we might need for the day and then back to work for the day. It’s hard for me to imagine how the rest of the world works, I mean I go to work every day and I know what time we open and what time we close but other than that every day is pretty much open to endless possibilities.
Most people (I’m sort of guessing here) go to work from 9-5 Monday- Friday, they do whatever their job is and for the most part they know what to expect and what is expected from them. Sometimes I envy this lifestyle as it has never been mine. I’m sure the “normal” people have their trials and tribulations at work so I’m not downplaying a traditional work environment, it just is a foreign concept to me.
Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach has been what I do and who I am for close to 30 years, I identify myself as Dave from Pappagallo’s, in fact the kids at work constantly tease me about how everyone “knows Dave” .
There have been a few times over the course of the past 28 years that life has dealt us a situation when our future was somewhat in known. Our first location fell victim to a fire that started in out neighbors shop but put us out of business until our second location could be remodeled. It was around 6 months of uncertainty that time. Years went by at that address, not without events that tested our resolve towards business and whether we should seek that “normal” career of push on with our restaurant.
The semiconductor location housed us for 15 years and we had economic challenges over those years as well. I remember when A1A was closed at Patrick Air Force base after 9/11 and that closed off half the traffic coming to our end of the beach. We got through that as did the rest of the country but it did claim several local businesses that just couldn’t weather that storm. I’ve been told by several friends and business mentors that Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach biggest asset was my thick head and unwillingness to let go of something that, at least a couple times, might have been better to let go.
Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach is a business to most people but to me it’s my life. Something that was built from the ground up. It started as a little hole in the wall pizza place that somewhere along the last 28 years has become part of the framework of a community. At least that’s how I see it.
My own kids grew up always having Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach as part of their life, for better or worse. There were times they would stop by with theirs friends cuz their dad owns Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach and that meant free food for their little group of friends. It also meant that dad wasn’t around for a lot of events because he was at work. They always understood that I would have rather been the normal dad that could just call out of work but my life just didn’t run that way.
It’s just a pizza place right? Well to me it wasn’t, it was what I did and what I did to support my family. Both the families that missed me at family events and the extended family of workers and customers that came to depend on Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach for anything from a pizza on a casual Tuesday night, to a last minute catering that had to be done a short notice because whatever was going on that needed to be catered just happened.
Back in the days when we used to have phone books, I remember a loyal customer needed a last minute catering for a long since closed tennis club. He literally got my number out of the phone book, called me at home at 7:30 in the morning because he needed lunch for a group of 30 people that were coming unexpectedly. Now most people think I’m crazy, including my wife at the time, but when she asked where I was going on a Sunday at 7:30 when we didn’t open till 3 (in those days). I quickly answered, going to do a party. That one instance didn’t make or break our little restaurant but where do you think that gentleman called every time from then on when he needed food for whatever event he had going on.
Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach is a one store operation. I know we can’t compete with national chain pizza or franchise restaurants with huge advertising budgets and fancy store fronts. What I did realize that because we were independent we could do what they couldn’t or wouldn’t do.
Let me give you an example of what I’m saying…
Say you need an order for 50 people and for whatever reason you need it at 8 am delivered. You could call one of the other guys and you’ll probably be met with, we don’t open till 11 or a simple I’m sorry we can’t help you. In the early day and to this day I love these calls. I know I can get these done and maybe win over a customer who will remember us next time when they need help providing food for whatever is going on in their lives.
Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach makes it a point never to turn away orders unless we absolutely can’t do it. This is not always easy and I have spent countless late nights and early mornings chasing down supplies that satisfy our order. The really fun part is that the customer never knows how much effort we take to pull these last minute orders off, and they don’t need to. This is what we do and what we’re here for.
Times have changed and I try really hard to change with this new world of online ordering and smart phone based world we live in. Many of our daily processes have advanced but almost all of them are on the administrative side of business, new phone systems, new point of sale systems, online ordering, and so many other little technological gadgets that help us run our business.
What Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach hasn’t changed is our commitment to serving the best food for the best price we can make.
Fresh bread is still fresh bread and that takes preparation by people. It takes time to make shred our whole milk mozzarella daily to insure the best quality. We hand trim all our chicken breast by hand because it’s simply better than the pre-trimmed pre-portioned alternative. What I’m saying is there are a lot of things we have changed that help us better serve our guests and we will always change some procedure or process if it makes for a better Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach.
I am constantly visited by sales rep from many different suppliers offering to sell us the newest pre-made desserts or bread that can be delivered or whatever else they think that we must already buy because no one “makes it themselves. “
We don’t offer many varieties of soups, usually one choice during the summer months and two during the winter season (winter is usually like 2 weeks long; just kidding). The reason for this is we make the soup from scratch. So we don’t offer 14 different soups that come in as a heat and serve item, it’s just not the way Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach was built.
I’ve never considered myself a successful businessman, truth is anyone can do what we do at Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach. It’s true you could go buy the same ingredients we use from all the same suppliers we use, copy our recipes, or at least some close to them and open up across the street.
What stops people is the amount of actual effort running a store like Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach takes, I’m not bragging by any means and in my early years I was paranoid about anyone learning how we made dough for fear they would steal our secrets.
With age comes wisdom, as I got older I realized that there are no secrets, hell you can YouTube and learn how to build a car engine from scratch. I’m pretty sure a pizza dough recipe is pretty available as well.
My point is that Pappagallo’s Satellite Beach is a labor of love for us we do this because we love it. Sure we make a living doing it but it’s the people and the community we serve that keeps us doing what we do for almost 30 years now.
I’m grateful for the good times we have had and I have learned a lot from the tough times as well, but after 30 years I know that every day someone will stop by to see us that I haven’t seen in a while or there will always be laughter with the staff of crazy restaurant workers that I call family.
We are far from finished but I’m thankful for all that this little hole in the wall pizza joint has given me over the years,