Francis Cuomo has been in the food industry for 39 years. He’s done everything from owning restaurants and catering businesses to owning a food market in Ft. Lauderdale. To him, it’s really no surprise that his most recent venture, DeRomo’s Gourmet Market and Restaurant in Bonita Springs is as successful as it is.
Cuomo has lived in the Southwest Florida area for 37 years and he’s always paid attention to what he could bring to the region. “I know the area,” he says. “I knew what they were ready for and what they weren’t ready for.”
Fortunately, he hasn’t had to worry about competition either. “There’s been a need for this for a long time. There’s nothing like it in Southwest Florida,” he says. After having its doors open for more than two years, DeRomo’s (which is a combination of his families’ last names—DeRosa and Cuomo) has had solid, steady growth. Sales have grown 20 to 25 percent each year, and the staff has grown by 10 employees, thanks to the opening of the banquet room.
Surprisingly, the growth of the business has not been directly correlated to advertising. Cuomo says it does very little advertising, but that he’s been written about in 15 to 20 magazines, which certainly helps.
“We were extremely busy since the second I opened the doors,” he says.
He does credit some of the success to the dual businesses. “The concept works,” he says. “The restaurant and market feed off of each other, which helps make both businesses more profitable. Going to the different avenues helps the bottom line.”
The Final Product
In the market, Cuomo has 95 branded products, which include six Italian wines, eight olive oils, six dressings, plus jams, jellies and more. The market also offers a wide selection of imported goods as well as meats, cheeses, gelato, coffee bar, seafood and a gift basket center. “Having products available in a grab-and-go design is more convenient,” he says.
The bakery offers more than 100 items that are baked fresh daily from scratch using old family recipes. There, you’ll find classic Italian breads such as ciabata, focaccia, and semolina alongside sweets like cannolis, biscottis and tiramisu.
For the restaurant, Cuomo says it is the uniqueness of the product that keeps customers come back time and time again. “Everything is made fresh in the restaurant to order,” he says.
It is the relationships he shares with 230 part-time and full-time employees that are his favorite part of his job. “I enjoy going home at end of the day and knowing we’ve had a successful day. I enjoy everything about that—serving people and seeing them happy.”