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Mike A. Miulli, Sales Consultant, Beltram Foodservice, Tampa, Fla.

Mike A. Miulli has always been in the restaurant business. His schooling in foodservice equipment and sales began when he worked in a Chicago wholesale pizza factory business.

Mike-Miullis-Head-Shot.jpegIn 1991, he opened up a night club/entertainment business in Hilton Head, S.C. Three years later Miulli moved to Tampa and created a mobile food concession business. “Shortly after, I operated five Chicago-style hot dog stands for Home Depot, even renovating all the trailers and installing the kitchen equipment myself,” says Miulli.

Unfortunately, after opening Italiano’s Market & Deli in 2006, he learned the hard way that some challenges are nearly impossible to overcome. “About a month after opening the Italian restaurant and market, the roads in front were torn up, and sales dropped dramatically for a couple of years,” says Miulli. “Then the rent shot up, and I decided to close shop, selling my equipment on eBay.”

Customer Dan Beltram saw potential in Miulli and offered him a sales position at his dealership. Today his customers include independent restaurants, regional chains, hotels, ALF facilities, churches, concession trailers, delis and c-stores. Also, Miulli’s hobby as a musician and drummer for a local band called Flyte has provided him with the opportunity to develop business with restaurant and bar owners.

FE&S: You have a pretty diverse background as a restaurant operator. How does this help you better serve your customers?

MM: The number one thing that I provide is a user-friendly atmosphere, since owners/operators basically live in their restaurants. It helps that I have experience in design, construction and working in commercial kitchens. Creating a great working environment can be a challenge, as we are dealing with many engineering and mechanical factors that people don’t think about as well as the many aspects of the kitchen and front of house.

FE&S: You are known for being very dutiful and thorough in your follow up. Describe your approach and why you feel it’s important.

MM: I get a lot of client referrals based on the value I bring to each project. I think outside the box in terms of kitchens, and many times this saves my customers money. For example, whenever possible, I throw used and refurbished equipment into the mix. I also focus on customer service. I’m very hands-on and mechanically astute, so I’ll just grab the drill and hang shelves when I need to. I also make it a point to get back to people right away and work efficiently.

FE&S: What goes into writing a good equipment spec?

MM: It’s all about the menu. I need to know what they’re cooking and how they’re cooking it. This ensures I will provide the proper equipment that is the most efficient. I pride myself in being up to date with the latest technologies and energy-efficient cooking options. I like to educate my clients about this, based on my experience paying utilities as an owner/operator. Sometimes, it’s not possible to convince someone that pricier equipment can save money in the long run, but I still provide the information so they can make an informed decision. In the end, it’s all about making the customer happy.

FE&S: How do you keep current on the latest foodservice-related technologies?

MM: I regularly attend webinars and manufacturer rep training. We also have our own test kitchen here at Beltram, so I make a point of checking out new equipment. I read what I can to see what’s out there, since there are new items coming out every day.

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