When local entrepreneurs invest in a new small business to supplement waning earnings from their primary business – and soon find themselves too busy with both ventures – the community can safely assume the economy is improving.
It is this exciting predicament that Bianca and Ken Zotti found themselves in this year, shortly after purchasing Pleasanton’s .
Until last fall, the downtown store, located at 444 Main St., was known by its regular clientele for its liquor, beer and soda, along with convenience food and a simple deli counter.
But when the spot came up for sale last fall, Livermore-based visionaries Bianca and Ken Zotti realized they could achieve the goal of owning an Italian-style grocer and deli while still meeting the needs of longtime patrons.
Prior to purchasing the downtown store, the couple's primary business, a plumbing company for new residential construction, was a bit depressed due to the economy’s slow recovery and decreased rates of new construction.
Their vision for their new Italian-style venture included several parameters, including a fine selection of cheese, meats, and gourmet pastas, plus a downtown Pleasanton address.
“The day we closed on the sale, our plumbing businesses started really picking up,” said Bianca Zotti, adding construction companies suddenly began requesting more bids for plumbing projects.
Still, by participating in downtown Pleasanton events, the regular clientele at Main Street Spirits & Deli is gradually growing to include customers who may otherwise never set foot in the store.
Longtime regulars at Main Street Spirits & Deli might not have expected that one day the store’s owners would be consulting with a “cheese specialist” while still offering the standard items sold at the store for years.
Bianca Zotti’s dream included not only offering homemade deli items in an Italian-style grocer, but doing so in her favorite downtown in the Bay Area.
“Pleasanton is very magical,” she said. “I grew up in the Bay Area in Santa Clara, and I was always involved in horses. I remember coming to Pleasanton back when I was a kid. And Ken raised his kids here.”
She values not only downtown’s quaintness, but its sense of community.
“There’s more energy in Pleasanton for me,” she said. “There’s a good vibe here and I love the Saturday farmer’s market in Pleasanton.”
She wants to appeal to the people in town who are seeking high quality specialized grocery items.
“To me, here in Pleasanton, everything thing needs to be first class,” she said. “You have to sell the best pasta you can and the best olive oil you can.
Zotti makes a concerted effort to hold onto the store’s longtime customers while refocusing the overall plan for merchandise.
“There’s probably still a lot here that nobody really wanted, either the existing customers or the newer ones,” she said, mentioning a set of neon-colored caps and cheap sunglasses.
But these items are balanced out by the cheese specialist.
“In the food world there are a lot of specialists!” she said, “I’m new to this, but I did a lot of research and now we have our Main Street Parma.”
With the help of local reps from distributors, the Zottis found the ideal cheeses, which they sample during the farmers market and other downtown events.
Groups of adults attending the in June flocked to Main Street Spirits & Deli not just for the wine tastings but for their tasty morsels of Boar’s Head meats served with cheeses on multi-grain crackers.
While there, visitors noticed the setup of the decorative wine barrels flanking the ends of aisles, and a menu of daily, handcrafted breakfast and lunch sandwiches for prices as low as $3.99.
“The people who would attend the wine stroll are the customers I really wanted to have, and those are the customers who also would never necessarily come in here before,” she said.
The Zottis have begun to rearrange some aisles in the store and have added fresh paint. But there is much left to do. Bianca remains optimistic.
“I have great plans,” said Zotti.