NAME: LLOYD CUETO
Job: Co-owner of Pitchers Sports Pub and Pizzeria, 104 W. Main St. in Belleville (233-4800)
Outlook: "It's just been unbelievably fun."
Lloyd Cueto has seen varying crowds coming to his Belleville bar and grill since he opened it about a year ago. By day, diners come for the New York-style pizza, wings, soups, salads, burgers, oven-baked sandwiches and more for the lunch and dinner. Later in the evening, customers arrive to enjoy drinks, televised sports and camaraderie. Cueto recently sat down with business writer Will Buss and talked about his business:
What has the past year been like for you and your business?
"It's been one heck of a learning curve. For the most part, as a co-owner, this is our first venture into the restaurant industry. And I think that it has been far more rewarding than I thought it would be, but also far more challenging than I ever imagined."
"Our main focus has been as a sports bar, so when you have an experience like the Cardinals baseball season this past year, it's just been unbelievably fun to be up here with our friends and family and all of our regular patrons when these magic moments that happen are happening at your place. You're getting that experience in a whole new way. That's definitely one of the most rewarding parts. The challenging part is unless you're involved with it, you just don't know how many moving parts there are to make one of these restaurants run. We're very, very blessed to have an incredible staff here and because we're such novices, we're able to kind of rely on them a lot for their expertise and their experience."
Who are your partners?
"It's John Costello and Mike Todd. None of us has really run a restaurant before. We've all been in a bar stool an awful lot, but we had not been on the other side of it."
Is this your full-time job?
"This is not our day job. Mike has his day job. He works (in Springfield) for Laborers International. John works in Springfield as well. He has his own lobbying consulting firm, and I'm an attorney here in Belleville. So for us, this is not our day job. This is more of a passion."
What else would you like to do with your business?
"There's a lot of space in this building that we have an opportunity to use. There is an entire upstairs that has exposed brick walls and this old industrial feel and design to it. The two biggest things we are hoping to do is expand our use of the party rooms back here that we call 'the dugout' and eventually years down the road develop the upstairs space as well."
What have you enjoyed most about it?
"Probably getting to meet so many new people and all of the customers who come in. All three of us, each one is really a people person. We love to socialize, we love to be out for functions and go to events. It's really rewarding."
What separates your restaurant and sports bar from others?
"That's a good question. I think as opposed to a lot of the commercial chains, we have a much more intimate space. We have just as many TVs, chicken wings, beer specials and all of that kind of thing, but you really get the opportunity to sit down and enjoy what you're watching when you come here."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.