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How many years have you
been in business?
This year marks our 45th anniversa-
ry. The company was launched on 6th
June 1972 with our very first branch at
Valpark Shopping Plaza. The pizzeria
was initially opened by a couple of my
friends and I after returning from Cana-
da. Pizza was one of our favourite meals
whilst studying in Canada and we real-
ized Trinidad had a lucrative landscape
for a new product (pizza) since no other
pizza company had yet entered the mar-
ket. The first mario's restaurant actually
served pizza, roti and sandwiches, and
we later specialized in pizzas. Having
achieved 45 years of business we have
embarked on a mission to feed the
homeless and vulnerable in Trinidad.
Thus far we've donated and distributed
3,500 meals across Trinidad to needy
persons and we are continuing this initi-
ative. We're very proud to be the first in
the restaurant industry to undertake a
massive community activity such as this
for our anniversary.
What has been your
I would say my biggest success lies in
being the largest local pizzeria in Trin-
idad with consistent growth. Mario's
has been able to develop a recipe with
strong local influence using cheese,
sauce and toppings that really reflect
our customers and which our customers
love. We now have 21 restaurants across
Trinidad and 5 in Guyana and we're still
Have you ever failed
at any endeavour?
Failure is also part of success, after
all you learn more from failure than
success. Some years ago we were the
franchisees of Blimpie's. We decided to
terminate our relationship and open
our own sub shop---Boomers. We have
since decided to close these locations as
well and focus elsewhere.
While I wouldn't say it has been a fail-
ure, we definitely learnt a lot from the
experience. We also had Mario's restau-
rants in Grenada which did not do very
well and have since decided to forgo
operations in that market.
What makes you decide whether
you want to enter a new venture?
The challenge involved. Every new
venture must be challenging, worth-
while and there must be value in it.
Best piece of advice
you've ever received?
Stay focused, keep your eye on the
ball and treat people fairly. These are
more so the values I was raised with
rather than any one piece of advice re-
ceived but it has led me to where I am
and I firmly believe in following these
Have you ever felt like
you could lose it all?
Certainly, there are times in business
when you struggle. The coup of 1990
was a very trying time for Mario's. We
lost two restaurants in that unfortunate
incident however we were able to stay
focused and rebuild what was lost all
without sending home a single employ-
ee.Again, we struggled a few years later
when the economy was unstable and we
were fighting for euros to import cheese.
There was the feeling of uncertainty
in the future for Mario's. Ultimately,
though, we stand strong and try to stay
positive that we will continue to build
the Mario's empire.
What drives you?
Passion for the job, a passion for peo-
ple and a drive to want to achieve more
are the values that constantly drive and
When did you recognise
that you'd 'made it'?
That depends on the definition of
'making it'. I don't believe you ever truly
make it in business. There's always the
opportunity to do something better, to
achieve more, to grow and to persevere
forward. Having the perception of hav-
ing made it could limit one's growth
What do most people think about
you that may or may not be true?
Most people tend to think of me as
fair. This is certainly an attribute that
is accurate. I try to be fair in all my en-
counters be it with my employees, sup-
pliers, contractors, family etc.
Fairness can never go unnoticed and
it is an underplayed quality in today's
What do you think are the key
factors to succeed in business?
You must have a vision for your busi-
ness and a clear understanding of what
you would like to achieve. An undying
passion for what you do and willingness
to go above and beyond to achieve this
is mandatory. Finally, treat your employ-
ees well and foster good relations with
Mario's has employees that have
been with us for decades, their kids and
grandchildren are now with us as well.
People work well when they are ap-
preciated and give back to you what you
put into them.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
His pizza has been a gastronomic
delight for countless Trinbago-
nians. As the founder of the
Mario's Pizza chain, Richard
Harford has been at the centre of the evo-
lution of the fast food business in T&T for
over 40 years.
For Harford, one of the easiest ways to
connect with another human has always
been through their stomach---with a slice
of his pizza as the main course. Sunday
Business caught up with The Pizza King to
get a sense of life and business for the man
who wears the crown.
at a time
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