PROFILE

Tony Orlando

Owner, Tony O's Supermarket and Catering

Born and raised in Ashtabula, Ohio, Tony Orlando has 50 years in the food business, having started at four years of age in 1961.

Tony purchased his store in May of 1999 from his father. Through the years, he has acquired extensive knowledge of meat and deli departments. He has consulted with other independents to help their businesses grow.

Tony has served on many Midwest beef councils and also was on the Young Executives Council for the NGA, of which he is a charter member.

Tony graduated from Ohio State University in 1978 with a Bachelors in Business Administration. He is married to wife Maria and has two sons, Michael (19) and Stephen (16). Tony is also the President of the Autistic Children’s Foundation. He loves golfing, casinos and talking shop at NGA.

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  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Can outdoor dining save restaurants?

    For warm desert climates yes it will do fine, whereas other areas not so much. The social distance part needs lifted ASAP, or many restaurants will not make a profit, and that is a scenario nobody needs in their cities.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Is the future of retailing going dark?

    It's pretty hard to go dark, when you are an independent store like mine. We do some BOPIS now with the new handheld unit for outside transactions including EBT. There are lost sales for sure and, in my case, a lot of lost sales as my deli creates a lot of sales through sampling, and our meat section is also a showcase for great deals. Food shopping is not a one-size-fits-all and, for me, I'll take the old-fashioned way -- plus the BOPIS if customers choose that option.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Retailers focus on making safe spaces for customers and associates

    This comes down to common sense, which seems to be lacking big time right now. Many stores, before this virus, have always cleaned and sanitized their stores in order to keep their places open, or the board of health would shut them down. Now we have upped our game, with extra cleaning, masks, etc. Some older stores simply cannot rip aisles apart so customers feel safe, and policing customers to wear face masks, if it is not mandated by law, is absurd to me as well. Are we going to do this next year, when a new strain of flu hits our country? I personally value my freedom to associate with who I want, and this quarantine needs to end as depression, extra alcohol consumption, and the over hyped up media freaking everybody out, is not healthy for humans. No income also creates more poverty, which in turn makes people sick. The majority of retailers are doing their best, so stay home if you feel the need and let the rest of us get on with our lives, and spend time with our family and friends, enjoying the warm summer months.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2020

    Would an Uber/Grubhub merger be good for restaurant meal delivery?

    Suresh, I have been saying this for years. You are correct with your insight on this subject. Nothing is free. The consumer has been led to believe that dinner should be dropped off for a couple of dollars, and that should be just fine. I studied this for several years. If the true cost of delivery was added in where profits are assured, the model would collapse, as everyone is waiting for the other to charge more for this and no one has blinked. Reality will take over as investors will quit throwing their money away, knowing profits and ROI are non existent.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2020

    The new normal will look a lot like the old normal

    Showing respect for supermarket employees and keeping them safe is a given. When this settles down, things will get back to the competitive beat downs in how we advertise with more loss leaders, and profits will shrink back to the old terrible bottom lines as we refuse to give up market share. That is part of our problem, with many discount low labor retailers who make it difficult to turn a good profit. I pay my employees pretty well, and cook meals for them, and try to make it a good place to work -- but to promise them wages that are beyond a business owner's capacity, because it the the right thing to do, simply won't work. The bills would pile up quickly. Add in the cost of health care (and by the way, this isn't just for supermarket employees, as other small businesses are facing the same thing). I'm re-evaluating everything now. If we come out of this with an upswing in our sales, then yes I'll continue to provide more for my employees, as I already handed out bonuses the last few months. The crystal ball isn't so clear right now. Hopefully we can move ahead and provide our customers with great values and service, and still turn a small profit.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2020

    McDonald’s publishes playbook for reopening restaurants

    In the past few weeks I have spoken to many independent restaurants, and also my friends, to get their thoughts on this so-called new normal. The results are in and, unfortunately, the majority of my friends do not want to go out to eat if they have to sit far apart from each other, or worse wear a face mask. This also applies to any vacation spots that require the same thing, as what is the point? My friends who are trying to re-open their restaurants, many are very unsure if they can actually turn a profit with all the spacing eliminating 50 percent of their customers, and the rules for servicing the tables which will require extra staff and expenses in their food handling with each table. Some will continue to do carry out for now, until the smoke clears, and are quite upset in general with how this is phased in. They are also not getting any answers as to the timetable for going back to running their place at full capacity. McDonald's is doing everything they can to get up and running and, for the moment, we shall see when it goes back to business as usual.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    I guess I am in the minority on this. The state of Ohio does not mandate masks for customers, and I am not the police, and if they come in without one so be it. If it was mandated than yes I would make sure the folks who don't have a mask not be allowed in or give them a disposable one. This situation is beyond insane, and we have folks shaking in their boots if someone gets near them. I feel sorry for these people, as inciting panic by the media has divided our country even more. The flu season runs annually, and this current version has been built up to be the end of times, which simply isn't true. There are some who believe we should wait till they find a cure or vaccine before we open up our economy again. When will it ever be safe enough so nobody gets seriously ill, or worse -- dies from any flu, now or in the future? The answer is never. We need to move forward with opening up our country, or risk a deep depression that most of us have never seen before.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2020

    Will mall owner’s $5 billion revitalize retailers weakened by COVID-19?

    The small stores which make up most malls have no chance at that money. $250 million a year is not a small retailer, so they will have to figure out how to handle the new way of doing business, and it will be very difficult to survive as malls no longer draw the crowds they did before.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2020

    Customers ask Wendy’s, ‘Where’s the beef?’

    Since this virus outbreak started, I have been talking to my customers online a lot. They get to hear the inside information I have, by working for a large wholesale meat distributor, and 99 percent are grateful to hear the truth. In the long run any store that tells customers the truth will benefit. You must never, ever gouge the consumer, even though you can, as it will come back to haunt you. Just today I have been telling my customers to buy extra, as everything will go up Thursday to cover these insane prices. By not doing some sort of public campaign online, you will risk making your customers upset by not keeping them in the loop on what is happening to our food supply. You can even post a link to a good article if you lack the time to write your own blog -- but do something, and they will appreciate it.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2020

    Will COVID-19 turn us into a society of health nuts?

    People will eat what they can afford, and many are struggling to buy the basics. Healthy eating is a lofty goal, and if more folks actually knew how to prepare a simple healthy meal, they would feel better. Snack foods, and sugary beverages are not going away anytime soon, and the consumers will choose what they want. I speak to my customers every day, and show them healthier options that are a good value, and many of them will try it, if it tastes good. With this quarantine some folks actually rediscovered cooking, and are saving lots of money vs. going out to a restaurant. Some of this will continue, as cooking can become a passion.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2020

    Should face masks be mandatory for shoppers?

    What a nightmare this country has become, with everyone's opinion polarizing, and paralyzing our society. Everyone is a health expert today and if our customers choose not to, so be it, as I don't like wearing one myself but I have to. Our nation is being led by media folks who strike fear in those who believe it is the end of times, and if we don't get this country opened up, more folks will die from starvation, and others will be unable to buy medicines for their chronic illnesses. We have folks walking off jobs to collect the extra $600 in their unemployment checks, and the new mandates for restaurants, and other retailers, will guarantee more places closing, as operating at 50 percent capacity, simply won't pay the bills. We are becoming a police state, and this is not going to end well. Seeing your grandkids through a window is insane, and I hope this ends soon as summer is near. This is no way to live, and the lawyers are waiting to sue on both sides of this issue (imagine that). It is beyond a mess, and next year another strain of the flu will come -- and then what?
  • Posted on: 04/29/2020

    Will shoppers go to the mall because Simon says it’s okay?

    As long as the media continues to beat the drum about how awful the virus is, many folks will stay away. If I have to go to the mall and be greeted by a squad of folks making me have my temperature taken, wearing a mask, and sitting away from my friends if I want to eat, then forget it. This should never be considered the new normal, and for those who think different, fine. We have a trip planned for October, and if they require face masks on the plane and when you arrive, and the city forces everyone to wear masks, I'll stay home. This needs to end soon, and if it doesn't, malls, event centers, and restaurants will close their doors. Our economy will crumble, and our dependency on government will spiral out of control. I love my freedom, and this will not end well, if we choose to continue on through the summer months and beyond.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2020

    Should grocers close their doors to customers for safety’s sake?

    Is everybody insane? Our economy is a train wreck, and now some folks suggest we should close down grocery stores. I live in this environment every day, and we do our best to protect our workers and customers. No one does it perfectly but if this is where we are going, our way of life will cease to exist. I talk to many businesses, and just yesterday one of our best restaurants told me that with the new rules regarding reopening, it will bankrupt many fine establishments, as government mandates are close to a third-world dictatorship regime on how we live and who we can associate with. I have seen comments that until a vaccine is created, these non-essential businesses should not open, and if that happens, anarchy will take over. People die every day of many different illnesses that are just a statistic, but this coronavirus has gotten the most attention since the HIV virus. Doctors will figure out how to provide solutions in the near future. Until then our lives must go on, and common sense precautions will help, but not 100 percent. Closing everything up is not the answer, and crime is going to rise sharply this summer if nothing is done. Politicians and our feckless Congress aren't missing any paychecks, and yet we cannot make a living? Zero common sense creates a ton of poor people, and that is not good.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2020

    Will virtual trade shows replace in-person events?

    The larger conventions like NGA will continue, and smaller venues will shrink over time. I am working on a virtual food show with Lipari as we speak and it is somewhat intimidating to work through the process, but we shall see how this goes. No Show Food Shows have been around forever and, if you participate, than you get some great deals without leaving your store. If you can build trust with the sales reps, then working virtually through the deals is a piece of cake. The face-to-face convention style shows are still popular, and hopefully they will continue. The one suggestion I have made in the past to the NGA staff is the follow-up on the vendor's part to make sure the potential customers get all of their questions asked afterwards. If that gets better, all of us benefit from the show -- either virtual or face-to-face.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2020

    Is America’s food supply chain nearing its breaking point?

    America's food supply is more than capable of doing its job. However with panic buying being out of control, and news networks spewing their scare tactic stories, convincing people that we can not provide for them, you have a perfect storm of stockpiling pantries, and some stores gouging, which is sickening. Patience is needed for the logistics, supply, warehouses, and retail to coordinate their needs, and it will smooth out in time. There are also problems with megastores demanding more and CPG food packers, which cannot fill the orders for the smaller warehouses, leaving large gaps in the center store. Either way, there will still be shortages, but it already is getting way better in perishables, which is my thing. So the answer is it will smooth out, and I hope the farmers make some profit as they desperately need it to survive.

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