The Italian Oven
The Progress Fund was exceptionally good to work with. The people I’ve dealt with have been cordial, cooperative, and knowledgeable.
The Italian Oven is a Somerset County tradition and now a family affair, thanks to the Newells and Bakers, who took over the chain’s original location in 1998. Sheila Baker worked for the Italian Oven Corporation until she convinced her husband Don, her sister Tammy Newell and Tammy’s husband Lee to join the business. Though Lee is a banker himself, he knew the group would find its best help by turning to The Progress Fund for expansion monies, which they did both in 1998 and now in 2005. Now the facility is ready to serve the county’s burgeoning tourist trade.
The Progress Fund’s $310,000 loan will be enough to expand the restaurant’s seating capacity from 150 to 225 and put in an 80-seat banquet hall. That will allow the two couples to bring motor coaches and other large parties to their already popular facility.
The Italian Oven now has 12 full-time and 20 part-time employees, growing by an additional 20-25 during its peak seasons — summer and winter. “We’ve been able to expand the workforce by three additional servers and two additional back of the house cooks per shift, thanks to The Progress Fund”, says Lee Newell. With more than 150 pasta combinations available at the restaurant already, the choices of traditional Italian fare could hardly expand. But now Newell is confident The Progress Fund’s help will “allow us to handle buses as well as private parties. We would expect our revenue to grow $200,000 over a 12-month period.”View Story as PDF