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Tutta Bella Crossroads Management Team Announced

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria Appoints Management Team to Lead New Eastside Location

Seattle, Wash.—(MARCH 19, 2013) —

Continuing Tradition of Cultivating Talent, Promotes from Within

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, Seattle’s first VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana) Neapolitan pizzeria, announced today the management team appointed to lead the company’s fifth neighborhood location, set to open in Bellevue’s Crossroads late summer.

Mariano Valdovino will head up the culinary staff as Kitchen Manager, while Tyler Kopkas takes the reigns as General Manager. While each has distinct responsibilities, they share at least one common thread: each has been promoted from within to manage the Crossroads location..
Manager Photos
Kopkas heads east after having led Tutta Bella’s Westlake location in the thriving South Lake Union neighborhood following time at the Columbia City store.

Said Kopkas, “Westlake and Columbia City were each valuable experiences in their own way that prepared me to take on the responsibilities of a GM at Crossroads. It’s my job to ensure the operation runs smoothly and that the customer feels at home from the moment they arrive until the last bite.”

Kitchen Manager Valdovino, a six-year Tutta Bella veteran, comes to Crossroads from Tutta Bella’s Westlake location where he held the same title. He has spent his entire career with Tutta Bella and calls “pizza perfection” his primary goal each time he comes to work.

“Tutta Bella offers everything a person who’s passionate about great food could ask for in a company, especially if you’re passionate about pizza,” said Valdovino. “Couple the opportunity to work with the best equipment and the best ingredients with a commitment to recognizing and then developing talent that is second to none, and you have an incredible working environment.”

The 7000 sq. ft. Crossroads location, designed in partnership with Mallet Design, will be Tutta Bella’s largest to date, featuring 300 seats and a true four-season patio – perfect for long, lingering lunches and family dinners on warm Seattle summer evenings and cool winter afternoons. Additionally, the restaurant is less than a mile from Microsoft’s Bellevue campus making it an attractive option for corporate gatherings.

Tutta Bella locations—Columbia City, Wallingford (Stone Way), South Lake Union (Westlake) and Issaquah— have a new menu.

Building on the popularity of their thin-crust wood-fired pizza, the new southern Italian menu

Media Contacts: Lori Randall
Randall PR / (206) 402-4328

Puget Sound Business Journal

Tutta Bella’s pizzeria finds success with high-quality ingredients, authentic pizza and a few basic principles

Marc Stiles Staff Writer-Puget Sound Business Journal

People told Joe Fugere he was nuts for wanting to open a pizzeria.

Another pizza joint in Seattle? In Columbia City? Forget about it, said friends and advisers who knew that the pizza market was overly saturated and thought Columbia City was too rough.

Nine years later, Fugere’s Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, which helped lead the renaissance of Columbia City, has gross annual revenues of more than $10.3 million, up from $8.4 million three years ago. And Fugere is preparing to open his company’s fifth restaurant, a 300-seat location at Crossroads mall in Bellevue.

To understand how Fugere and his 180 employees have succeeded, you’ve got to know some things. They seem random, but together they help tell the story of the company that strives to do right by its employees, customers and vendors, while offering unique, authentic fare in an inviting environment.

Tutta Bella does not serve a pepperoni pie. The company was the first in the Northwest that an international trade group certified as a true Neapolitan pizzeria. And Tutta Bella offers hourly employees paid time off and health insurance benefits if they work more than 20 hours a week.

Fugere (pronounced Foo-jair) and his staff endeavor to welcome everyone who comes through the door, whether the person is an actual customer, a homeless person who wants to use the restroom, or a cold-calling salesperson peddling life insurance. Fugere will sit down with sales people, serve them a free pizza and listen to their spiel.

“This is how I built my business,” which is “not a chain of restaurants (but) a family of pizzerias,” said Fugere, whose success has drawn praise from President Barack Obama.

It started about 10 years ago when Fugere was looking for something to do after leaving Starbucks. He knew he wanted to open “a meaningful business,” one that would last 100 years or more. But he was unsure what that meant, other than somehow combining his passion for food, architecture, nonprofits and community.

Fugere knew the doubters were right: Pizza is overdone. But authentic pizza was different.

Fugere had learned that from his grandmother, Caroline Costanza, the daughter of Italian immigrants who came to Seattle 105 years ago and settled on Beacon Hill. She used to tell her grandchildren, “Someday, you guys will try real Italian pizza,’” said Fugere.

That got him thinking, and while doing research he discovered Verace Pizza Napoletana, an international nonprofit that promotes the art of Neapolitan pizza making. The Italian government made the group a legal entity that certifies pizzerias.

This led Fugere to Naples to learn the craft of making the thin-crust pizzas in wood-fired ovens. Fugere’s teacher spoke no English, and Fugere spoke no Italian. It wasn’t a problem. The instructor grabbed the student’s hands and pushed them into the dough, signaling this is how you do it.

Fugere also learned that you could build a business that would last 100 years.

“Seriously, I was in pizzerias that opened in 1889,” he said, recalling his first bite of pizza there. “It’s hard to describe, but it was an aha moment.” His grandmother had been right — there is nothing like real Italian pizza.

Fugere returned to Seattle. He went on to open four restaurants in five years and emerge on the national scene.

A Massachusetts-based nonprofit, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, twice named Tutta Bella one of the 100 fastest-growing inner-city companies in the country. And Tutta Bella has delivered pizzas to Obama aboard Air Force One at Paine Field in Everett. That was after Obama welcomed Fugere at the White House and publicly recognized him as he signed the 2010 Small Business Lending Act.

It’s the Friday lunch rush as Fugere gives a tour of the open kitchen in Columbia City. Heat rolls out of the oven as Executive Chef Brian Gojdics bakes a pizza by holding it over coals on a pizza peel, a disc at the end of a long stick.

“Everything is made from scratch,” Fugere said, pointing to the stack of cans of Tutta Bella private-label sauce made from Italian-grown tomatoes and talking about using a special flour, also from Italy

Tutta Bella locations—Columbia City, Wallingford (Stone Way), South Lake Union (Westlake) and Issaquah— have a new menu.

Building on the popularity of their thin-crust wood-fired pizza, the new southern Italian menu

Media Contacts: Lori Randall
Randall PR / (206) 402-4328

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About the VPN

Neapolitan Pizza Organization

The Verace Pizza Napoletana Association is an international trade association, founded in 1984 in Naples, Italy by Antonio Pace. Its purpose is to promote the culinary tradition of the Neapolitan pizza.

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