In business today, there is a lot of talk about a company’s “corporate culture.” When a business acquires another, there is a period of time immediately following the merger when the personnel of the two companies are first brought together.
During this time a new corporate culture is developed, usually that of the company that did the acquiring. This “Brady Bunch”-like exercise can be stressful for employees, and – depending upon the transparency of the company – its customers as well.
But the acquisition of the Papa-Razzi restaurants by Newport Harbor Corp. should bring out the best in both organizations. That is the wish and the mission of Newport Harbor President and CEO Paul O’Reilly.
“What I’m seeing with the Papa-Razzi group [of employees] are some impressive people,” he said at Newport Harbor’s executive offices in Newport.
“We’re incredibly excited to be coming to the Boston market,” he enthused. “We’ve wanted to get into Boston for a while.” But unlike many executives on the buying end of an acquisition, O’Reilly is not in a mad rush to put his company’s imprimatur on the new store and bring everyone into line with the new firm’s ways. Newport Harbor Director of Restaurants and New-Business Development Ken Cusson will direct Papa-Razzi’s operations while working closely with the chain’s corporate executive chef, James Martin. That is great news for those on both sides of the table at the soon-to-be-acquired restaurants.
Chef Martin has been with Papa-Razzi and its parent company, Back Bay Restaurant Group, for the better part of a decade. His menus and recipes are favorites of diners who frequent the seven Italian casual trattoria-style eateries in and around Boston, as well as its sole Rhode Island location in Cranston.
“James is a terrific chef,” said O’Reilly. “He has made Papa-Razzi a food-focused operation.” The respect appears to be mutual. Martin has been aware of the Newport Harbor Corporation’s restaurants from a competitive standpoint through his work at Papa-Razzi’s Rhode Island location.
The scale of the would-be sibling restaurants is very similar. The size of the average Papa-Razzi is about the same as the average Newport Harbor restaurant, such as Hemenways in Providence or 22 Bowens in Newport.
O’Reilly describes the price point of Papa Razzi’s menu as a “good fit” with the Newport Harbor restaurants. He continued, “[The pricing and menu] was what we liked about the (restaurants) right away. The food is authentic with fresh ingredients carefully prepared.” He describes the trattorias as “well above the average casual family restaurant, yet more approachable.”