Thomas Cucco was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Cucco always had a very strong passion for business. He has been a successful entrepreneur for over 30 years, including 20 years of owning and operating restaurants. He opened Table 87 in 2012 and in three short years he has opened 2 brick and mortar restaurant locations and has developed a frozen retail line of packaged coal oven pizza. He is currently in over 600 supermarkets. Thomas Cucco has secured larger accounts (i.e., Whole Foods, Fairway Market, Pea Pod and Fresh Direct). Most recently he appeared on ABC’s Show Shark Tank, on which he secured a deal with Lori Greiner.
1) How did you come up with the idea for Table 87?
As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I was always disappointed that none of the local Coal Oven Pizzerias sold pizza by the slice and so in order to enjoy coal oven pizza you had to buy an entire pie. In 2012 I opened up Brooklyn’s first Coal Oven Slice Shop. After proving to be a great success, I opened up a second location 18 months later.
2) Where do you see the business going?
I believe that Table 87 pizza will become a household name.
3) How did Lori Greiner’s investment on Shark Tank help your business?
Lori has been an excellent addition to the company. Her knowledge on marketing, strategic advertising along with packaging design is proving to be a wonderful asset to Table 87 Frozen. Lori’s investment gave us necessary capital to build out a 7,000 square foot facility which will allow us to prep, bake, package & ship all under one roof. This will enable us to take on all nationwide retail demand right from our new Brooklyn digs! This will increase our production capabilities exponentially. Our new facility will be fully operational by mid-February 2016.
Since airing on Shark Tank our business has soared in more ways than one. We are now shipping our product nationally. Our online and retail sales have been incredible. We have noticed an impressive rise in the demand from our existing retail accounts. We are also getting contacted regularly from retail stores nationwide to inquire about how they can begin carrying our product.
4) What makes Table 87 different to all other pizzas?
I pride myself in using only the finest of ingredients, such as Fresh Mozzarella, Fontina Cheese, Alta Cucina Tomatoes and Reggiano Parmesan; my pizza is then baked in a 900 degree Coal Oven and topped off with Fresh Basil. My product is displayed in air-tight, cryovak clear packaging, ensuring a 5 month shelf-life and preventing it from ice crystallization. This clear packaging also provides the consumer with a bird’s eye view of the pizza slice, allowing them to see exactly what they’re buying; my pizza is not hidden in a box. Being that it is a fully cooked product; my pizza goes from freezer to the plate in a matter of minutes. Mangia a Pizza!
5) What inspired you to go into business?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I have been in business for myself for over 30 years. Looking back to when I started my first company, all I could think about was being the best at whatever I was doing. Being successful was always the main goal and I take great pride in my businesses and I find them very gratifying.
6) What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
One of the first things I learned and would love to pass on to anyone that wants to be their own boss is “learn to listen and listen to learn”. You must never lose sight of your goals and although it isn’t easy, every day you must work hard to get a little closer to attaining them. If you don’t want to work long hours every day or you’re the type of person that needs a lot of vacation time, being an entrepreneur might not be the route for you.
We would like to thank Thomas for speaking with us.