The three brothers whose American empire began with a little pizzeria in Port Washington hardly need an introduction. The Scottos have been there for some of Long Islanders’ happiest moments. Their catering facilities have long been the premier destinations for weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, bar/bat mitzvahs and a litany of galas, fundraisers and awards dinners. Theirs is an American story. It’s the story of a close-knit Italian family immigrating here and making it. And it’s the story of how that family is bringing the next generation into the business. Tony Scotto, often seen as the face of the Scotto Brothers business, reflects on how it all happened.
Mom used to say [the above], “Do bad, and think about it. Do good, and forget about it.” And you need to adapt that philosophy in business as well.
We came from Monte di Procida [Naples], a fishing village. All we knew and all we understood was the sea. We had the good fortune to come to this country in 1961. We went to Brooklyn, our uncle had Romano’s Restaurant there. If my uncle had a shoe business, maybe I’d be a shoemaker. Our father’s cousin suggested Long Island and found a place and we three brothers went to see it and that’s how it started. The landlord had an office in a big high-rise in Manhattan. In it, he had one big white wall with only two words on it: “Think Big.”
So we made a go at it—Scotto’s Pizzeria and Restaurant. Four people came and went in that space, but because we come from a culture of great workers, my brothers and I made a go and the first week we made 900 dollars. It was 1967. We always felt work was a good thing. And we brought the kids to work when they were young and they developed a passion. They do it well, but they do it in different ways. We did it with brick and mortar, but they do it with computers.
As an immigrant, I had a great asset: Hunger. Hunger to do something. All of the three brothers got a different role. We were all watching every piece. Victor complements me. He does best what I don’t know how to do. I understand the art of business, but Victor can look at this office and reproduce the whole thing with his bare hands. Being the younger brother, I do everything nobody else wants to do. When we started, I was the best cook, so I did the cooking. Victor was good with his hands, so anything that needed a hammer, Victor did that. Our oldest brother Vincent was good with people, so he was the waiter (he now maintains restaurants in Vegas, though he’s semi-retired). And we knew if we wanted to be successful we had to share. We had to stick together. We didn’t know any other way.
This is a family business and anybody in the family who wants to work, there’s a job for them. If someone wants to do something on his own, he can. We have dozens and dozens and dozens of people who work for us 20 to 35 years. We work as a family. With us, maintaining a family feeling is a natural thing. We sit and eat with our employees. We emanate the family thing at all times. We all eat together at 2 o’clock. It’s a wonderful thing to sit with your employees and just share what’s going on. And at times, it’s something that can be productive.
Victor has said: If you yell at someone, you’re not doing your job. You have to teach them. You don’t need a miracle; you need to do the right thing. And he’s right.
We’ve been challenged for the last 46 years. Challenge is what we handle best. We don’t stop.
1967 & 1969 Scotto’s, Port Wash & Great Neck
978 Chateau Briand
1980 Steer Born
1988 Fox Hollow
994 7th Street Café
1998 Zefferino (Vegas)
2002 The Inn at Fox Hollow
2002 Oyster Bay (Vegas)
2003 Good to Go (Vegas)
2005 Princeton Hampton Inn (NJ)