Il Tesoro di Sofia
|Division of Del Toro Restaurants|
|Founded||April 18, 1982|
|Founder||Vicente Del Toro|
1473 W Prussian Avenue|
Las Vegas, Clark, Sierra 89106
Number of locations
|Revenue||▼ $KS 3.43 billion (2016)|
|▼ $KS 527.4 million (2016)|
|▼ $259.8 million (2016)|
|Total assets||▼ $1.51 billion (2016)|
|Total equity||▲ $601.8 million (2016)|
The restaurant was originally founded by Giorgi Valastro, an Italian-Sierran restauranteur in the city of Santa Fe Springs, Gold Coast. The name is roughly translated into "Sofia's Treasure" or "The Treasure of Sofia", given so in honor of the Valastro's mother, who briefly manned the restaurant's kitchen as head chef. After opening a second restaurant in the nearby town of Gardena, Valastro seeking to expand his business further, spun off the properties and sold the franchising rights to restaurants to business executive Martin Del Toro, owner of the Del Toro Restaurants group. As a wholly owned subsidiary, the corporate-owned Il Tesoro di Sofia rapidly expanded, adding over 75 franchises across Sierra by 1990.
The menu of Il Tesoro di Sofia features classic and contemporary renditions of Italian-American recipes that include pasta, steaks, pizza, seafood, soups, and salads. All corporate-owned outlets and most franchises, like the original restaurant, are themed haphazardly and feature distinctive, eclectic interior design and decor. Restaurants are decorated with vintage pictures of the Valastro family, crate boxes, low-hanging potted plants, aquariums, and memorabilia imported from Italy.
History[edit | edit source]
Original restaurant[edit | edit source]
Il Tesoro di Sofia was originally founded in 1977 by Giorgio Valastro in the city of Santa Fe Springs, Gold Coast. Valastro was an Italian-Continental immigrant from New Jersey, United Commonwealth who moved to Sierra in 1955 with his family. Raised in a family with a rich culinary tradition in the kitchen, Valastro learned how to cook at an early age from his mother and grandmother, and was convinced into creating his own restaurant. He dropped out of high school in 1968, and went into vocational school to become an automobile mechanic. After seven years into his career, Valastro was unsatisfied with his profession and sought to pursue his childhood dream of selling the Italian food that he grew up eating and cooking with during his childhood years.
Valastro received a $500,000 startup loan and opened the first Il Tesoro di Sofia in 1982 on the southwest corner of the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and Telegraph Road. The building was leased space, and originally served as an American-style diner and the previous lessee left a trove of pictures, decoration, and other novelties. Rather than spend more money on interior design, Valastro decided to incorporate the previous lessee's items with his own belongings, bringing in family heirlooms and more.
Business was initially slow for the first few months. On the first day of official business, the store only made $172. Six months in, Valastro was unable to break even and worried that he would be forced to close in debt by the end of the year. He had relied solely on word-of-mouth from regular customers to attract patrons, but was understaffed, and suffered from a relatively high employee turnover rate. He reached out to his second cousin, Timothy Russo, a marketing manager, for advice. When Russo came to the restaurant, he pointed out the unmanageably large menu and decor as the key factors impeding business. He also contracted a local printing company to distribute flyers to promote the business. Although Valastro reduced the size of the menu dramatically (from over 80 items to only 25 dishes), he refused to take down any of the decorations he placed, insisting that they were crucial to the restaurant's identity. The restaurant also started selling certain dishes for cheaper on select days, including Ravioli Mondays. In addition, the restaurant began offering alcohol, something Valastro was hesitant about.
Transfer of ownership[edit | edit source]
Enlargement[edit | edit source]
Contemporary[edit | edit source]
Operations and locations[edit | edit source]
The majority of the chain's restaurants are located inside renovated warehouses and feature décor similar to the original restaurant's use of old antiques, vibrant memorabilia, black-and-white photography, news clippings, and statuettes. Most locations feature two stories, with large parties and reservations typically seated on the second floor. In addition, there are themed tables and booths, which add variety to the dining experience.
Menu[edit | edit source]
The restaurant chain primarily serves Italian-American cuisine although some locations may also offer dishes from other Mediterranean-based cuisines. It specializes in a variety of pasta, salads, and soups. Steak and seafood are also served, with prices ranging from $8 to $30. Every order comes with freshly house-baked bread, served with complimentary butter and vinaigrette. Most locations serve dishes in large portions in a large bowl meant for sharing, and provide individual plates for customers to divide the large dish with. Wine and other select beverages are also sold, and may be consumed at the dining area or the restaurant's own bar. Nearly every location has its own wine cellar on display, which function both for storage and cosmetic purposes.
The popular risotto alla soia is a Sierran hot box that was invented at an Orange location in San-Clemente-by-the-Sea after the local management ran out of cuttlefish for Risotto al nero di seppia and borrowed soy sauce and other ingredients from an adjacent Chinese restaurant.