Frugatti's opens up dining room in red tier: owner says business doing well and they're hiring new employees

Posted at 5:15 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 08:15:08-04

Frugatti’s is known for their family style dining, which they’ve made al fresco while Kern county’s was in the purple tier.

Well, they’re finally opening these doors to their dining room and wine caves later today, and the owners said those elements will still be there, even with the red tier restrictions.

“If you’ve ever been in an Italian family, at a Sunday dinner at an Italian family’s home. You know what I’m talking about,” said Ralph Fruguglietti,

the owner of Frugatti’s Wood Fired Italian. “Lots of conversations going on, plates clanging and food being passed around left and right.”

It’s those Fruguglietti said he’s been looking forward to hearing again when they reopen their dining room and wine caves wednesday at 11:00 a.m.

With the red tier restrictions Kern County Public health just announced Tuesday, Frugatti’s will bring back about 15 of their 35 tables, and still keep the fifteen out in their courtyard.

“We’ve been getting tons of phone calls already for reservations,” Fruguglietti said.

Since Kern County went in the red tier for a few weeks before shutting down in October the 30-year-old southern Italian establishment has been through the ups and downs that many small businesses experienced during the pandemic.

“Day one, literally on March 17, at lunch time we were a full service restaurant. Dinner time, we were takeout only,” Fruguglietti recalled. “That’s a drastic change for a concept like ours, because our restaurant is based on the concept of people coming in and eating.”

At that time, they had to let go of half of their 50 employees, Fruguglietti said the community immediately showed up for them through to-go orders, even a 400 to 600 percent increase in online ordering. Plus if you’ve experienced the wait times, you know they’ve supported them through the outdoor dining reservations, too.

Fruguglietti said customer service elements like curbside pickup and texting when orders are ready have helped a lot.

“It was really important that we didn't’ lose one day or one customer during this. So, we were very proactive,” Fruguglietti said.

Frugatti's was able to secure the very first round of PPP, enough for three months of payroll. Fruguglietti said they gradually hired back all their staff after two months.

When the restaurant opens indoors Wednesday, they'll have 60 employees, when they initially had 50. They're training seven more and still hiring.

Fruguglietti told 23ABC the courtyard dining will be here to stay even as they open up indoors.

The look and feel of the outdoor space, from the fountain to the tiled floors, remind him of his many trips to Italy to visit family, which he feels captures the spirit of the eatery as much as the dining room does.