Clinton, NC | Alfredo DiPinto | www.alfredosofclinton.com
We went from doing $350,000 in revenue to just under $800,000
WHAT THEY DO A full-service Italian restaurant situated in a beautifully-renovated historic building in downtown Clinton, Alfredo’s prides themselves on offering something unique to the area: Authentic Italian cuisine coupled with a selection of wine and beer pairings. They push themselves to offer high-quality service and food that is a little bit surprising, a little bit interesting, and extremely delicious. When Alfredo’s started out seven years ago, it was a hobby for Alfredo DiPinto and only open three days a week with no wine or beer. When he discovered that the restaurant could be something more, he renovated a building around the corner and a year ago he set up shop as a permanent fixture in the local landscape.
UNDER THE CAPE Alfredo DiPinto was born in Italy and knows good Italian food. By day he is an Investment Advisor for Wells Fargo Advisors, but by night he is the owner of Alfredo’s Ristorante on Wall Street. It was December 2009, on Kiawah Island, that he was inspired by another small, family-owned Italian Restaurant and came home with the plans to start his own restaurant as a hobby. It is not that he didn’t know the challenges, or the unsettling statistics of failure that surround new restaurants. His wife owns a chicken and BBQ place across town. He just knew that he had a solid concept in an area that was ready for it. Within a few months, he opened the doors. Now he works his day job and comes to the restaurant each evening from 5:00 pm to close, some nights taking advantage of the apartment upstairs to catch up on some rest when not layering batches of Tiramisu. His motto is, “If it’s fun, it’s not work.” And to him, running Alfredo’s is not only fun, it is a passion.
WHAT IT TAKES TO RECEIVE A GRANT FOR $200,000 When Alfredo decided to make the leap from hobby restaurant to something more, he knew his biggest challenge was his location. He was leasing a 2,500sf building that did not allow alcohol sales. They decided to purchase a 12,000sf, two-story building nearly next door, but the renovations would be extensive. In order to help offset the costs, he pursued the Main Street Solutions Grant, which awarded $25,000 per full-time employee hired. He went for the max of $200,000 and he ended up winning it with the help of the SBTDC. Alfredo submitted his first proposal and thought that it was over, but they came back to him asking for a much more in-depth report. If they were going to award him $200,000, they were going to need some substantiated information to warrant that kind of money. They suggested reaching out to the SBTDC, so he did. Alfredo’s counselor Ron said, “Let’s shave this thing down and give a little more detail to it.” And that’s what they did. Ron sat with Alfredo several times, asked the necessary questions to pinpoint what was needed and then provided the details including market research that placed Alfredo’s Ristorante within the context of industry averages. “It was critical to my success and that grant, no doubt.”
ONE YEAR LATER Alfredo’s Ristorante has been in its new location for one year and they have already gone from $350K to $800K in revenue. He is in awe of the community’s response and the level of interest. The amount of space is something that still amazes him, and his staff is loving the size of the new kitchen. The menu has changed because they now have the space to store ingredients on site instead of at his wife’s place across town. They are now serving beer and wine and customers love that enhancement to the dining experience.
HEROIC ANTICS Alfredo’s Restaurant is a testament to the Main Street Solutions Grant. With the renovations and changes, they have gone from a staff of ten to now employing more than 25 people in a rural area where finding jobs can be difficult, and Alfredo is not afraid to pay for quality employees. Everyone starts above minimum wage, and he expects initiative and dedication in return. Alfredo believes in his community and places an extraordinary emphasis on their support as the reason for his growth. “This whole project has been about other people. Yeah, I do the interviews and it’s my name on the building. But let me tell you, it was the contractor, my wife, my SBTDC counselor, my staff and the people of this town that have been critical to our success.”
This story was originally published in the SBTDC 2018 Success Stories. View the entire publication here.
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