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Small Business Spotlight: Proietti's Italian Restaurant

Brett Davidsen
Created: January 29, 2020 09:48 PM

WEBSTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — You get a comfortable feeling when you step into Proietti's. Maybe it's the smell of marinara, the charming decor or seeing the owner, Anthony "Whitey" Proietti, mingling with the customers. 

Whatever, it is, it has made this restaurant a hometown favorite.

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Brett Davidsen: “When you opened that door for the first time, did you think you'd be here 50 years later?”

Whitey Proietti: "Never gave it a thought."

Whitey went into the restaurant business when he was just 17. He and his father bought a pizza place on North Goodman Street in the city. 

In 1970, 50 years ago, Whitey moved to this shopping plaza in Webster. Proietti's opened as a pizzeria and bar.

"It was a big party place, just a crazy party place," Whitey recalls.

But after a particularly raucous fight there one night, Whitey decided to do away with the bar and focus on the food. 

Since then, the decor of the restaurant has gone through several changes, but the quality of the cuisine has remained constant.

Davidsen: “So when a customer comes in here, what can they expect?”

Proietti: "Um, I think they probably can expect that it's gonna become their favorite restaurant."

From the homemade bread to the stuffed ravioli, there's plenty to choose from on the menu.

Davidsen: “What's the, you have to get this?”

Proietti: "Well, the chicken french of course."

Whitey says they go through more than 2,000 pieces of chicken per week.

I can tell you from first-hand experience, it didn't disappoint.

Davidsen: "That is unbelievable. What's the secret?

Proietti: "We can't tell you that. That's why it's a secret."

Proietti's is truly a family-run restaurant. His wife, Sandra, oversees the front of the house. His son, Tony, is the head chef and several other children, grandchildren and nephews work there as well.

Davidsen: “So many people try to make a go of it with a restaurant, and I don't know what the percentage is…”

Proietti: "I'll give you the percentage."

Davidsen: “What is it? How many fail?”

Proietti: "70% within the first 36 months."

Davidsen: “So how do you make it for 50 years?”

Proietti: "There's no absentee ownership. We're here constantly."

Even his non-family staff are kind of like family. Several have been here more than two decades, and he credits his loyal employees for his success.

At 72, Whitey says he has no plans to step away from the business.

Davidsen: “What would you say is the best thing about this job?”

Proietti: "Feeding people. Making people happy."

If you know of a small business we should feature, email us at spotlight@whec.com.


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