Author: Mark Quersher, BSU student
Almost everyone in the South Shore with a love for Italian food has most likely heard of the restaurant Johnny Macaroni‘s. They have 3 locations that they currently run but the first operation began in 1997, 23 years ago in March. Although, that is not where the story began according to Jonathan Vallarelli who runs the day-to-day operations of the classic restaurant. He told me of his father’s dream to take what he learned from running restaurants like Baldini’s and the Chateau in Norwood and turn that into an establishment he could call his own. When the first Johnny Macaroni’s opened up on West Street in East Bridgewater the company was quickly faced with the struggles of attracting new customers who were unaware they even existed.
It was only a matter of time before people were telling all their friends and family about the phenomenal tasting food and even greater portions. The struggle for Johnny Macaroni’s was now on the complete other end of the spectrum – there were too many customers! As Jonathan watched his father conduct all this business growing up, he quickly decided to join in and make his own contribution by doing prep work at just 7 years old. As he grew up and he finished high school, Jonathan found an interest in pursuing business at the University of Tampa. He learned a lot and met some great people, but the time down south came to end after he realized that “…everything I had was here in Massachusetts.”
Once he came to terms with that fact, he became committed and possibly even obsessed with carrying on his father’s dream of running an unparalleled restaurant that serves quality food on a constant basis. While every restaurant comes with the possibility of a cook putting their own spice on things, Jonathan reiterated how he trains his cooks to avoid those tendencies by expressing the importance behind the method. “I think how consistent we are is a big key too. We really try to do a good job about making sure that everyone cooking understands that THIS is what the product is…You don’t throw any wrenches in it.” With all the business that the first decade of the 21st century brought, Johnny Macaroni’s reputation was making its way far beyond East and West Bridgewater. With business booming, the family decided in 2014 that the most financially sound decision was to open another location to support the influx of customers. “People would call on Saturday and there would be two-hour waits, they wanted our product.”
I asked Jonathan about their decision to open their second location on Plymouth Street in East Bridgewater, just 4 miles up the road, and if there were any set backs they experienced from being so close. Some may have called this a bold move, but it was exactly what the company needed at the time with so much of their business concentrated within that region of the South Shore. The company not only wanted to capture the business of that overflow in customers but also keep from having to re-establish themselves in another part of the South Shore.
In the short time that they have been operating this location, the family has exceeded their expectations and hope to expand their menu options in the future by offering healthier, delicious meals. In addition to their dine-in and take-out locations, Johnny Macaroni’s has also expanded into Halifax with a VERY popular catering operation on 106 in Industrial Drive. With multiple locations to support all operations of business, this family-run and family-oriented restaurant brand has utilized the power of Word of Mouth over years to serve their community.
– Eat Well, Laugh Often, Love Much –