By Anna Skinner
Don Main wasn’t expecting to expand and celebrate 25 years of business when he and his brother Tom and partner Brooks Powers launched the first Puccini’s on 86th and Ditch in Indianapolis, March 13, 1991.
But 25 years and 11 Puccini’s locations later, Main said he is happily surprised.
“First of all, it’s one of those things you just don’t expect to end up where you are after all these years,” the founder and president said. “When you first start, you’re starting something for real basic reasons. We all found ourselves at a crossroads in 1990, and whatever we had been doing was not panning out.”
Main said when Puccini’s began, pizza and pasta restaurants had not oversaturated the area, and all the founders enjoyed that type of food.
“We just did it differently, and we have expanded our menu as the years have gone by to be more inclusive. Back then, it wasn’t a very cluttered pizza pasta landscape, and it’s food we all loved,” Main said. “I’ve raised my family on Puccini’s, and there were times in the first 10 or 15 years where we averaged eating there at least four times a week.”
Main confessed at times, he probably eats Puccini’s 10 to 12 times each week and still doesn’t get sick of it.
Many ask him how he succeeded in such a hard business, and Main said it wasn’t that difficult.
“When we started, it was so basic. Like, ‘let’s do some recipes that are things we enjoy eating ourselves.’” he said. “We made things we liked to eat, and that was how we handled our menu and products and then we priced them at a reasonable markup to stay in business and make a living. It sounds basic, and it is. Simple is good.”
When his brother and Powers began speaking of establishing a second Puccini’s, Main was surprised.
“I was super happy just to have one successful store,” he laughed. “It was really an incremental step by step. I didn’t think we would be here at this point. It’s definitely satisfying that people have liked what we did so much. That’s been fabulous. We were desperate. We needed to do something and make some money. I thought I was starting a job, not a career.”
Because there are 11 Puccini’s spread out across Indiana and Kentucky, Main said it would be too difficult to host a 25th anniversary celebration and that the restaurants would just keep doing what they’d done to be successful in the first place.
“We didn’t even have a grand opening for our first store,” he said. “I was surprised that being simple like that brought so much real success for us. People would talk about what a difficult industry is, and it is, statistically.”
The Carmel Puccini’s is at 13674 N. Meridian St.
For more, visit http://www.puccinissmilingteeth.com/.
Don Main’s advice for a successful restaurant:
“Nobody ever succeeds 100 percent of the time. We try our best to have our people that interact with our customers and impart on them that we just want to make people happy. If we fail, we do whatever we need to make people happy, do whatever it takes to make it right.”