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Franchise of freshness hopes to whet local appetites
by Nathan Orme
Apr 24, 2009 | 2337 views | 1 1 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Operating manager Zach Fedele and co-owner Anthony LaFasto opened the first Capriotti's Sandwich Shop in Sparks on Feb. 9 at the corner of Greg Street and McCarran Boulevard.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Operating manager Zach Fedele and co-owner Anthony LaFasto opened the first Capriotti's Sandwich Shop in Sparks on Feb. 9 at the corner of Greg Street and McCarran Boulevard.
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Tribune/Nathan Orme - Fedele puts the Russian dressing on a Capastrami sandwich, one of the signature menu items to be had at Capriotti's Sandwich Shop. Fedele’s father, Steve, is the other co-owner of the local Capriotti’s franchise.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Fedele puts the Russian dressing on a Capastrami sandwich, one of the signature menu items to be had at Capriotti's Sandwich Shop. Fedele’s father, Steve, is the other co-owner of the local Capriotti’s franchise.
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Tribune/Nathan Orme - Karrie Chernach, 18, shreds roasted turkey for the day's sandwiches at Capriotti's in Sparks.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Karrie Chernach, 18, shreds roasted turkey for the day's sandwiches at Capriotti's in Sparks.
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Know thyself.

This old adage holds true in business, too, and was part of what motivated local entrepreneur Anthony LaFasto to open a Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop franchise in Sparks.

The Las Vegas native knew one thing about himself: He loved food from Capriotti’s, a sandwich chain started in 1976 in Delaware and which has more than two dozen locations in the Vegas area. When LaFosta moved to the northern part of the state, he missed eating there and knew there were other Vegas transplants who must miss it, too. So, he partnered with Steve Fedele and son Zach, also Las Vegas natives, to bring the chain to the Reno-Sparks market.

“Before we opened we had a good following of people,” said Zach, who is now the store’s operating manager. Like many other young Nevadans, Zach moved from Las Vegas to go to college at the University of Nevada, Reno, but every trip home one of his first stops was at Capriotti’s for a sandwich.

Touting turkey and roast beef that is slow-roasted daily, Capriotti’s was started by Lois Margolet in Wilmington, Dela. It wasn’t until 1987 that the shop, by then named for her grandfather, Philip Capriotti, expanded beyond its original location. Their specialty was the Bobbie, a sandwich made with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayonnaise. The menu has since grown to include many other specialty sandwiches, including the Capistrami, made with hot pastrami, coleslaw, melted Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.

“I fell in love with the company because of the food,” Capriotti’s president/CEO Ashley Morris said. “It’s the best sandwich you’ll ever eat, period.”

Morris purchased the company in 2008 after owning several franchises in Las Vegas. Like LaFasto and the Fedeles, Morris felt the quality of the sandwiches made the franchise ready to grow nationwide. There are currently 60 Capriotti’s stores in operation, Morris said, and he expects to have 250 committed to open by the end of the year.

A franchisee recently committed to opening 80 locatons in the Los Angeles area over the next 10 years, Morris said. The Milwaukee and Madison, Wis. markets have been sold, he added, and the company is in talks with seven other markets to create exclusive franchise contracts.

“The way we’re growing we’re not really looking for individual franchisees,” Morris said. “We’re looking for area and master development. We’re looking for franchisees who are looking to open at least three stores over a fixed period of time to over a whole county.”

LaFasto said he is planning to open two Reno locations in addition to the one in Sparks, which opened on Feb. 9. He said it took about eight months to secure investors, and Morris said it takes about $250,00 to open one Capriotti’s franchise.

“Being young and the way the economy is now it’s a risk with any business,” LaFasto said. “Inevitably it will take tenacity and hard work and you’ve got to have a desirable product in a good location.”

When it came to the location in Sparks, LaFasto said Capriotti’s corporate had to give final approval. It came down to about 10 possibities before potential traffic volume narrowed the choices down to the property at the corner of Greg Street and McCarran Boulevard. Capriotti’s corporate also helped with employee training, with a boost from several employees who previously worked at stores in Las Vegas before coming to northern Nevada for college.

The training is, of course, the key to the desirable product. Employees slow-roast the meat each night and pull it apart in the morning. Bread is made locally and delivered daily and vegetables are cut each day. Several hours before opening each day at 10:30 a.m., the store is already abuzz with activity, preparing for the lunch rush.

For those who had never heard of Capriotti’s before, there won’t be any fancy marketing campaigns to announce the opening. Satisfied customers will take care of that, LaFasto said.

“Basically we let the product speak for itself,” Zach added.

The product has apparently spoken sweetly to many reviewers. Morris said Capriotti’s is the only fast food to be rated by online restaurant review site Zagat, and a review of Las Vegas cuisine on the New York Times Web site says of Capriotti’s, “We never leave town without a stop here, and you shouldn’t either.”

The Sparks location is at 1530 S. Stanford Way, near the corner of Greg Street and McCarran Boulevard. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday (closed Sunday. To view the complete menu and more information, go to www.capriottis.com.
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marymeea
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April 24, 2009
Capriotti's! I LOVE Capriotti's!
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