Frato's in Schaumburg finds new ways to help patrons
Frato's Culinary Kitchen in Schaumburg has been receiving praise from community members for its quick and innovative responses to COVID-19 restrictions.
But despite new services such as offering a free roll of toilet paper with every online order of an 18-inch pizza, and selling other grocery items to help customers avoid long lines, company President Michael Kudrna is the first to admit this is a difficult time for everyone in the restaurant industry.
Kudrna said his business lost thousands in catering sales just last week, and that will continue to be the case for many similar restaurants as long as the coronavirus restrictions remain in place.
Frato's is a little different from most restaurants in Schaumburg, however, because it is also a culinary school for both novices and advanced students, with about 80% of its staff falling into either of those two categories.
Kudrna spoke about what they're learning from this unforeseen lesson in the hospitality industry.
"The answer is how brutal it is, and how if you don't truly love what you're doing it's very rough," Kudrna said. "You must develop a strong personality, thick skin, and be a problem-solving leader that doesn't shy away from needing to take charge of any situation you face.
"I don't believe the restaurant industry will ever be the same after this, and unless the government steps in more, I believe a lot of restaurants that are closed will never reopen once everything settles down."
Some loyal customers have complained that other restaurants are now taking credit for the toilet paper add-on with online orders, but time stamps on social media posts about the offer will demonstrate that Frato's was the local innovator, Kudrna said.
The business is even jokingly self-applying the title "The TP King of Schaumburg" in its marketing.
The idea of delivering groceries as well was one Frato's had been brainstorming and preparing for prior to the coronavirus crisis, but it was the outbreak that tipped the scales and caused the business to move ahead with the plan, Kudrna said.
This week, Schaumburg Mayor Tom Dailly called on residents to help out all restaurants like Frato's in the village during this trying time.
"I hope people continue to support our businesses, especially the ones that are independently owned," Dailly said. "They are the ones that are going to be hardest hit. Order from them, and don't forget to tip!"