Bertucci's is a Northborough, Massachusetts-based private company which runs a chain of sit-down Italian restaurants offering brick oven pizza and Italian food. It also offers delivery (from some stores), take-out and private dining. Bertucci's was founded by Joe Crugnale in Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1981. The company expanded rapidly into the 1990s. Bertucci's is found in the Northeast. Eventually N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc. bought out Bertucci's. Owner since 1998, N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc. adopted the Bertucci's Co. name in 2001.
Joseph Crugnale, Bertucci’s founder, was born in Sulmona, Italy. He landed his first job in a restaurant while in high school after emigrating to Boston. He worked as a porter at the Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. In 1974 he opened his first ice cream stand. In 1975, he refinanced his father's home and purchased Steve's Ice Cream from founder Steve Herrell for $80,000.
Crugnale established 26 stores before selling the concept to Integrated Resources in 1983 for $4.5 million, two years after the first Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizzeria opened, two doors from Steve's Ice Cream. Bertucci’s was opened to eliminate the possibility of an ice cream competitor moving in. The name was found in a magazine during a flight to New York.
Bertucci's developed into a chain; 20 were opened by (need date. 1990???), with the company growing by 3,157 percent. “As the chain grew, extending its presence outside of Massachusetts and then outside of New England, Crugnale's reputation grew, making both the founder and the company models of success in the U.S. restaurant industry.”
Two more Massachusetts restaurants opened in 1985, in Cambridge and Brookline Village. They featured open-hearth brick oven specialty pizzas topped with ingredients such as artichoke hearts and roasted eggplant. No two Bertucci's were alike to avoid marketing as a chain. The Brookline restaurant contained an outdoor Bocci court. It planned to operate 20 restaurants by 1990. The Brookline restaurant closed in September 2009.
While the company grew it spent less than 1 percent of revenues on advertising, relying on word of mouth. USA Today listed Bertucci's as one of America's top 10 pizza restaurants in 1989; by then, its headquarters were in Woburn.
Bertucci's became a publicly owned company in July 1991. The company offered 21 units for $13 per share. That year sales increased 30 percent to $37.4 million and net income increased by 90 percent to $3 million. Stock prices nearly doubled, selling for $24.75 per share.
In 1992 delivery and take-out services were added; Bertucci’s grew from 26 to 36 stores. In 1994, it expanded to Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Orlando, Florida, and New Jersey. Bertucci’s had 63 stores by 1995.
A $10.4 million wrongful death lawsuit against Bertucci's was filed in July 1995. Janet Walker, of Salem, New Hampshire, went into anaphylactic shock and then slipped into a coma after ingesting pesto sauce that contained nuts. The waitress, according to the lawsuit, failed to mention the nuts. A week later, Walker died.
N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc. purchased Bertucci’s for $10.50 a share in 1998 during a buyout. N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc. sold its Chili's and On the Border restaurants; it changed their name to Bertucci's Corp. in 2001. A $4 million advertising tagline "Everybody Eats" was developed in April 2002.
On December 3, 2012 Bertucci's opened its first 2Ovens concept restaurant in the re-vamped White City shopping center in Shrewsbury, MA. The brick ovens are the only method of cooking in the restaurant.
While it began by offering only brick oven pizzas, in the 1990s Bertucci's began offering pasta specialty dishes, panini, and foccacia sandwiches; seafood, meat, and chicken dishes; grilled dishes, including steaks, chicken, and seafood. Seasonal specials are also offered.
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