Twenty-three years after arriving in Miami from his native Italy at age 27, Graziano Sbroggio has achieved the proverbial American dream.
Now age 50, Sbroggio leads a local restaurant empire; including owning the management company Graspa Groupo, and co-owning an assortment of popular Miami Beach mainstays, such as TiramisU, Spris, Segafredo L’Originale, Spuntino Bakery and Catering, and Van Dyke Café, as well as Salumeria 104 in Midtown Miami and the newly opened Spris Pizza in downtown Miami.
And he is not done yet: More restaurants are on the way, he said.
Rumors have been swirling about Sbroggio’s Lincoln Road restaurants closing, so we first talked to him about that. Then we sent him these questions about his life and businesses, to which he responded by e-mail:
Q. Please tell me about the Italian town you were born in, and about your family’s background in the restaurant business.
A. I was born and raised in Treviso, a small city 20 miles from Venice, gorgeously located halfway from the seaside and the well-known Dolomites.
My family has always owned a restaurant, and it is fair to say that I was born to the restaurant business. I was always involved in the family business, but it was upon graduating from school that I started to really work in the restaurant. I learned everything about running a restaurant from my father and my mother, who were truly passionate about their job and passed that same passion down to me. I owe them a lot for where I am today.
Q. How did you end up in Miami?
A. I had a great opportunity at the right moment. It was back in 1990. Our family decided to sell the historical restaurant La Cappelletta after several years of successfully running it. It was then that one of our regular clients, Mr. Romano Fregonese, offered me the opportunity to relocate to Miami to manage their recently opened Italian restaurant TiramesU on Ocean Drive.
I was a little scared about the challenge, leaving my beloved country without knowing either English or Spanish. Well, I now can say that when I look back at those first years, the difficulties I had were well worth it, and I will always be eternally grateful to the Fregonese family for their trust and giving me this opportunity.
Q. How and when did you become a restaurant owner here?
A. I started with TiramesU as a manager. It was when we decided to move the restaurant from Ocean Drive to the then promising Lincoln Road that I became co-owner with the Fregonese family. It was 1997. TiramesU was one of the few restaurants on Lincoln Road, and the street was still a pristine territory where few tourists landed, but it was populated by lots of locals.
Q. What was your next restaurant venture and where? What other restaurants do you own? Do you have partners? Please tell me a little about each of the restaurants.
A. With TiramesU having a new successful life on Lincoln Road since day one, in 1998 I decided to open Spris La Pizzeria del TiramesU, two doors down on Lincoln Road. We are celebrating 15 years this October. Spris has won many awards for its excellent pizza and is one of the preferred Lincoln Road spots to munch over a family reunion, get together with friends or enjoy a romantic casual date.
After two years, in 2000, I opened Segafredo Café. The Lincoln Road hot spot is the first Segafredo Café in the United States. It’s not a coincidence that Segafredo’s headquarters are in Treviso. Segafredo Café also set the beginning of a great business and personal relationship with Mr. Mark Soyka.