Business In Is Pizzeria Owner’s Heritage
Lukus Andriaccio comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. His grandmother Antoinette Coppola came to America from Italy in 1935 and eventually married Guy Andriaccio, whose family had come from the same country in the 1800s. Guy started Andriaccio’s Restaurant near the grounds of Chautauqua Institution in 1983 with his wife and two sons, Mark and Nick. Mark, Luke’s father, left the business in 2000 to start a construction company. The son worked along side his father, but when he started dating his wife, who lived in Bemus Point, he saw the need for a pizzeria in the lakeside village. When he took the idea to his father, the pair decided to purchase a building on the main street that had been a liquor store, real estate office and most recently, a clothing store.
“We completely renovated it and turned it into a restaurant,” said the son. “The grand opening was May 22, 2008.”
Pictures dating back to the early 1900s of both the Coppola and Andriaccio Families line one of the walls displaying the family’s proud heritage.
“I didn’t know much about the business part and got a big reality when we opened in 2008. The way my dad taught me made us as successful as we are today and now, we have opened another location,” he added.
The older Andriaccio taught his son to do inventory, scheduling, payroll, accounting, food management, waste management and portion control.
“It’s easy to open a place but it takes work to keep it going,” he said while comparing it to parenting.
“My dad had the idea to use Margherita cup and char pepperoni, like they were using in Buffalo. It is the most expensive pepperoni on the market. No one around here was using it,” he said.
“We took the risk and it is now very popular, although there are a few who don’t like it and ask that we put it under the cheese so it doesn’t cup and char.”
By 2017, the son wanted to expand, but didn’t want to open a second location, so he made the decision to commercialize their grandmother’s recipe for pasta and pizza sauces. He chose to name it Marco Rosso after his family. Marco is his middle name and Rosso is the Italian word for the color red, representing his wife’s and sons’ hair color.
He began bottling the sauce at his Bemus Point location and selling it in local stores, but because of the popularity, soon outgrew that kitchen. From there he got a commercialized recipe and a co-packer to produce the sauce. After acquiring a food distributor, they were launched into more stores and the business has continued to grow. It is carried by Wegmans and Tops and U.S. Foods. The entrepreneur attends meetings and does demos and temporary price reductions to promote his product.
“We’re coming out with two new sauces that are all-natural, low-sugar, low-sodium and have no preservatives. They are salsa and Garlic Cue, which can be used for chicken wings, a marinating rub or any way imaginable, even on a cheeseburger,” he stated. “It was my friend, Greg Humm’s award-winning recipe. After he passed, his parents, Fred and Mary Humm, gave me the recipe and permission to put it under the Marco Rosso label and I was honored.”
After he got the sauce business going, he wanted to open a second location in different area. He already had a large customer base from Erie, Pa., due to summer tourism, so in the summer of 2019 he started putting together numbers for an Erie location. His friend had purchased a building at 26th and Raspberry streets near St. Vincent Hospital which had been the home of a pizzeria that had closed after 45 years.
“We did a lot of business planning going into this. We opened January 24 with a boom and then it leveled off, but now we are getting busier. We’re learning a lot about doing business in the inner city,” he said. “We have always been involved 100 percent with our business and now we are only involved 50 percent. We’re relying on qualified staff with a manager and a general manager and they are doing a good job.”
He is adamant about his employees having fun with positive attitudes and no gossiping or bigotry.
“I could not imagine doing anything else. I could not imagine working for anyone. Working with people, the customers, employees, food vendors, is a thrill. The business is in my bones. I owe that to my dad, my grandfather and my mother. I’m never going to stop learning until the day I die,” he added.
He resides in Bemus Point with his wife, Grace, who is a speech pathologist and their sons, Luke Jr., 9, and Robert, 6. They attend Church on the Rock where Andriaccio enjoys fellowshipping with other couples at small group meetings.
His interests are diverse. He makes artisan concrete counters “and believe it or not, I like to crochet.” He learned from his grandmother Giovanni Coppola when he was five years old and has made several projects, including a Steelers throw for his grandmother. He also enjoys history.
“Whenever I’m around my grandmother and grandfather Andriaccio, I just soak up that Italian heritage. My grandfather has such good stories and when he talks, I listen,” he said.
He has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and feels he owes a lot of his success to it.
“My OCD kicks in and drives me to my goals. It’s my biggest enjoyment to prove people wrong. My OCD plays into that and I use it to my advantage,” he said. “I was told by several people not to try the retail food service business when I told them about my idea to bottle and sell the sauce.”
He is the author of the motto he uses when he is making big decisions, “If it takes you longer to explain it than to think it up, it probably is not a good idea.”
Coppola’s Pizzeria is located at 20 Main St., Bemus Point and at 142 West 26th St., in Erie. To order call the Bemus Point Restaurant at 567-4057 and the Erie location at (814) 277-2555.
RICOTTA CHEESE MIX
5 lbs ricotta cheese
1/2 oz dried basil
1/2 oz black pepper
1 oz garlic powder
1/2 c dried parsley
Mix with water for desired thickness. Use in manicotti or lasagna.
3 egg yolks
1/2 c parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Romano cheese
1/2 parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c sour cream
1 tsp butter
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 c beer
10 lasagna noodles
8 oz mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 jar Marco Rosso Sauce
Par-cook lasagna noodles. Lightly coat a 9-inch by 13-inch pan with a thin layer of sauce. Layer half of all ingredients in order given. Repeat. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through, approximately 30-40 minutes.