Anthony Petralia, 35
Anthony Petralia comes from a long line of chefs and restaurant owners.
But Petralia says he’s the only family member in his generation to be in the industry. So when he was ready for Tralia, an Italian restaurant he opened in 2020, it was more than just something he wanted to do. It was about creating a legacy. “I wanted to take the baton and run with it,” he says.
Petralia's start in the industry actually dates back to when he was 13. Back then Petralia had developed a passion for an expensive hobby — motocross. So he started washing dishes at Agatina's, an Italian restaurant in Rochester, New York, to pay for expenses. “I had no intention to stay in the industry, but here we are,” he says.
Tralia didn’t get a traditional start, either, launching like it did in the pandemic. In those early shutdown days, Petralia had extra time to put together a business plan because he was furloughed from his job as kitchen manager at Gulf Gate Food + Beer for three to four weeks.
He opened Tralia in a ghost or virtual kitchen, a commercially-licensed area that provides space for food prep but has no seating or customers. Tralia officially opened in July 2020 at Your Culinary Place in the Gulf Gate neighborhood in south Sarasota County.
Currently, the restaurant offers pickup and delivery Thursdays through Mondays at Your Culinary Place as well as dine-in and take-out the same days at 99 Bottles Taproom and Bottle Shop in downtown Sarasota.
The partnership with 99 Bottles came about one day when Petralia noticed a "Kitchen Takeover" flier at the taproom. The bar hosts restaurants to sell food on special nights. What started as a once a week collaboration has since turned into a consistent five-day venue for Tralia.
But running a virtual kitchen isn’t the long term goal. Petralia dreams of owning a brick and mortar location. That dream, he says, is not that far off, projecting he will have a storefront open somewhere in Sarasota by next summer.
His mentor, 99 Bottles owner Mark Tuchman, has helped Petralia with the search for a location, in addition to other issues, including how to spot a good deal, negotiate a contract and the legal side of real estate. “He’s not overbearing, and if I have a question he’s always there for me,” Petralia says. “He’s given me the tools to be successful on my own.”
The end goal of opening a brick and mortar location is nice, but it isn’t what drives Petralia. That, instead, stems from growing up, when his family struggled financially. “Things were tight,” he says, and he never wanted to be in that position.
Challenges in the restaurant business, of course, come heavy, like inflation and supply chain issues. The price he paid for tinfoil, for example, rose to $50 a roll at one point.
Petralia relies on his passion for the industry to keep going through all the obstacles. Consider how he's recreating his grandma's eggplant parmesan recipe, saying recreating nostalgic foods is his favorite part of the business. “It’s fun to nail it down to where I can make it all the time,” he says. “There’s a lot of room for creativity.”
— Amanda Postma
City of Residence: Sarasota
Birthplace: Rochester, NY
Years in the area: 19
Marital Status/Children: Married, no children
Alma Mater/Degree: None
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Mote Marine/Chamber of Commerce
Are you working from the company office, home office or hybrid? Hybrid
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Or the weirdest task you've ever been assigned? Collections (short lived, wasn't for me)
What's your top tip for being productive? Follow the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule). Focusing on the most important 20% of your workload or tasks. Having a list of tasks and physically crossing things off of it.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? AirBnB or some kind of real estate venture.
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Watching the Bills or documentaries and spending time with family and friends.
What's the most significant item on your life bucket list — and what's keeping you from completing it? Traveling around Italy - Time/Money
What's your favorite podcast? Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast
At what percentage on your phone do you start to get Low Battery Anxiety? Less than 5%
What are the top three apps used on your smartphone? Instagram, Outlook, Spotify
What books are you reading now? Eat a Peach (David Chang), Built not Born (Tom Golisano)
What's your go-to music genre, band or act to be inspired? Pop-punk, emo, classic rock, hair metal
Who would play you in the movie of your life? Jake Gyllenhaal
Where is your happy place? Buffalo Wild Wings
Describe yourself in three words: Talented, Handsome, Modest
Who is your mentor for your career and why? Mark Tuchman
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? How to build and scale a successful business model