Rebecca: You have all these different concepts that have come together, and more ideas continue to come, I know, but in Tutoni’s and in Taste Test and things that you do. Do you think you’ve done what you wanted to for York?
Toni: That’s a big question. I feel like I’m humble, I’m humbled enough and gracious enough to be able to come up with ideas and be able to do them and try them and test them and have such a supportive community to kind of figure out which ones will stay and which ones will go.
Do I feel like I’ve done all I wanted to for York? Not yet.
I feel like I’m just getting started.
I try not to scare people with how big my dreams are, but I have this vision and this execution plan of creating something so unique for the restaurant and hospitality world and how financing is done because of my trials and tribulations that I had to go through in order to get where I’m at and the tenacity that I was fortunate enough to have good mentors to cultivate that instead of scare that away.
What I’m trying to do with Taste Test, starting in York, and we’re going to work on bringing it to other locations like York, that big cities are overdone.
Tutoni’s in Orlando would be eh, big deal, give me the next thing. It’s the land of Disney World, you can’t compete.
But up here, if you really get to know your audience, there’s opportunity, and the same thing with little towns all over the country, that’s how this country was founded, you know what I mean? Little small towns that grew into big conglomerates.
My thing is corporate America is coming in and tarnishing all of that. You can go to the same town across the entire nation it’s the same five restaurants you see and it’s ridiculous, they just keep getting more and more money, and more and more watered down.
It’s not real food, and I don’t mean any offense to anything but I was born and raised in the industry and then I see what happened with produce, my father being a produce broker for 25 years, and it’s even simple tomatoes aren’t even the same any more, so we owe it to the community in which we’re in to find the local grower, shake his hand, sell his product, keep his kids in soccer practice.
It’s not easy, and we’re losing that because everybody’s getting greedy. And it’s smart, but I’m calling it as I see it and I have an opportunity to do something with the small piece of the world that I own and that’s Taste Test and Tutoni’s.
People that come through will have an opportunity to share their story and then the community comes together and supports that story. $200,000 is a lot of money to a bank. A bank will say no, what do you have to collateralize against it? $200,000 spread throughout the community in order to see your favorite taco restaurant open up and now you can go eat your favorite tacos and then see a return on those tacos is huge.
It’s something that’s being done in different industries such as the gaming world or the movie world, but it’s not being done in the food world and the hospitality world, and that’s something you get instant gratification on.
It’s just something that I’ve been formulating with my family for 15 years, and it’s something that I’ve just kind of taken over as my own and running with it, so Taste Test was the first incubator of incubators to be able to execute that plan.
What I’ve learned and what I’ve grown up with and what I’ve had instilled in my generations deep, I want to share that in a bigger way by allowing the American dream to come back. By allowing the person who says I really wanna open a restaurant, not have to go through all of the hurdles that everyone else tells them they have to go through.
Here, sell the community in what you’re building in. Tell your story, prove yourself, and then be invested in.