In 1896, Teresa Marzetti immigrated to the United States and opened a small restaurant here in Columbus. Though Marzetti’s eventually matured into a four-star restaurant, it’s doubtful its founder imagined it would become the giant specialty foods corporation it is today.
Located near The Ohio State University, Marzetti’s was renowned for its authentic Italian fare, and patrons were especially fond of its freshly made creamy coleslaw and French dressing. In fact, they were so popular that by 1955 the upstairs of the restaurant was converted to a full-scale factory. Soon after, the Marzetti brand of salad dressings appeared on grocery store shelves throughout Ohio.
The restaurant closed after Marzetti’s death in 1972, but her legacy lives on through the T. Marzetti Co., which produces a long list of dressings, fruit and vegetable dips, frozen baked goods, and specialty brand items.
After T. Marzetti was bought by Lancaster Colony Corp. in 1969, the company began acquiring other food businesses.
“The early acquisitions were of other varieties of salad dressings and sauces that were used to leverage the available capacity of the Marzetti manufacturing plant and to expand our consumer base,” says Bruce Rosa, president of T. Marzetti.
“We then went on to also acquire other types of foods that were sold to the retail or restaurant channel with a plan to leverage our sales, marketing and administrative costs,” he adds.
Today its brands are leaders in the produce and frozen food categories.
When asked why T. Marzetti has been able to remain in business for so long, Rosa’s answer is fairly simple.
The key to Marzetti’s growth and success over the years truly is a result of its passion for innovation and its commitment to offering premium quality products that people enjoy, he says.
When Teresa Marzetti was getting her restaurant off the ground, she said, “We will start a new place and serve good food. At a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but we will serve good food.”
“Her commitment to offering supreme service and food at an affordable price was key in the core principles of the Marzetti brand,” Rosa says. “Today, these principles are at the foundation of how we run the Marzetti business.”
If there’s anything that entrepreneurs can learn from Marzetti’s example, it’s that dedication, innovation and commitment to quality can lead to long-lasting success.
“From her early journey from Florence, Italy to the United States to founding a business that would later be a leader in the retail world, her story shows that anything is possible with hard work,” Rosa says.
To learn more about T. Marzetti Co., visit Marzetti.com.