A dream that turned a passion into a lifelong successful business:
In the early 70s, a young and inspired recent college graduate returned to his home soil in Trinidad and Tobago with great motivation to contribute his newfound knowledge to society. His drive for entrepreneurship gave way to the establishment of a restaurant with his close friend Richard Gibbon.
It all started with an investment of $4000TTD
When an ice cream shop at the Valpark Shopping Plaza was offered up for sale, the friends grasped the opportunity; forming a joint venture business with a simple initial investment of $4,000 each from their own pockets. Their deli-style restaurant sold local sandwich and roti favorites for a short period until it converted into Trinidad’s first local Pizza Parlour was born in 1972.
The top liming spot
Folks from all areas of Trinidad flocked to sample Mario’s Pizza; from friends and family outings, to romantic dates and casual meetings. It was a place for people to come together, spend quality time and enjoy great food.
While the product was still new to Trinbagonians, the team managed to earn a high approval rating by using cheddar cheese (the most widely used cheese in Trinidad) as a primary ingredient.
Till this day, our pizza remains a true representation of our local tastes that were shaped by our rich heritage and diverse cultures: A taste you will never find in any other part of the world! It’s even safe to say that we pioneered the consumption of pizza with ketchup, mustard and pepper sauce- a custom that may shock pizza eaters around the world even today!
Building a brand from scratch
Restaurant Manager, Mr. Harford soon became known for his rigorous work ethic. At 5:00am every morning, he would purchase fresh produce from the market. Upon arrival at the restaurant he would supervise the preparations, making sure every quality control specification was met. Once the doors were opened he would oversee every aspect of the operation. At the end of the day, he would balance the cash, do his daily stock evaluation and make the necessary preparations for the next morning. His work day did not end before 11:00pm, but he still managed to arrive bright and early each morning without complaint.Our founding Father even became known as ‘Big Slice’. Even today, his management style and attention to detail is carried on at all branches.
Staying afloat over the years was not easy, especially with the appearance of international franchises in the twin island republic. Eventually, when business slowed down, Harford took a leap of faith; further investing in Mario’s pizza- and became the proud owner of the entirety of the company’s shares. Despite the grim outlook of the economy, his determination and passion for quality products and high standards maintained the popularity and ensured the slow but steady growth of Mario’s Pizzeria.
Mario’s Pizzeria: 40 Decades Later
Mr Harford’s management skills have shaped the brand to where it is today with over 20 Restaurants in Trinidad and a Franchise in Guyana. However, a changing landscape with extreme competition and operational challenges called for fresh, new perspectives. Who else would be better able to help bring the brand into the 21st century? The answer: his sons who had lived and breathed Mario’s Pizzeria during their entire lives, and were first hand witnesses to their fathers’ persistence, hard work and need for perfection. Each one of them have left their personal mark and contribution; redefining what it means to be a family company.
Under the then Assistant General Manager, Roger Harford’s initiative, the Mario’s Pizza Facebook Fan page was launched in 2009 well ahead of local competition. The chain quickly expanded into other popular social networks – Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, Instagram and in 2020, Tik Tok. The brand embraced the importance of being relevant and easily accessible to their fans and prospective customers!
Looking towards the future
Under the watchful eye of Chairman Mr. Harford himself, his son; Mr. Roger Harford now sits as the company’s CEO. With big dreams for the future, it’s our aim to be fully established within the English-speaking Caribbean in the next ten years. Expansion into South America is also under consideration. The lack of a strong regional pizza presence provides rich opportunity for Mario’s to become as synonymous with pizza in South America as it is in Trinidad.
- Valpark, 1972
- Cipriani Boulevard, 1975
- Long Circular Mall, 1979 [Now Closed]
- Chaguanas Mid Centre Mall, 1983
- Trincity Mall, 1985
- San Juan, 1985; New Branch, 2016
- St. Augustine, 1989
- Independence Square, 1990
- Pro Queen Street, Arima, 1995 [Now Closed]
- City Gate, 1996
- Sangre Grande, 1999
- Montrose, 2000
Main Road Chaguanas, 2002 [Now Closed]
- West Mall, 2003 [Now Closed]
- UWI Campus, 2004
- Ellerslie Plaza, 2006
- Marabella, 2007
- Couva, 2010
- El Dorado, 2010
- O’Meara Road, Arima, 2012
- Gasparillo, 2012
- Diego Martin, 2015
- Endeavour, 2017
- Debe, 2018
- St. Helena, 2020