Shaz Khan of Tono Pizzeria & Cheesesteaks on Navigating Friendship + Business

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Conclusion of this episode:

Proactive development is advantageous – Shaz Khan started Tono Pizzeria & Cheesesteaks with his best friend, Antonio Gambino. Friends or family are often never mixed up with business, but Khan, Gambino, and the crew did the necessary work early to help navigate the difficult times.

Brand Traction is a long game – In a climate where viral and instant fame seems to take precedence, Shaz Khan understands that a consistent customer base is better connected to an authentic story.

Scale cannot be the only measure of success – Shaz Khan and Antonio Gambino have been strategic in building their team. With confidence as the basis, the journey of scale has become the success story.


Shaz Khan knows the old adage of not mixing friends and family with business or money. But when he started a restaurant business he learned to mix them.

Shaz Khan was an electrical engineer by trade before facing the catering industry with his best friend.

“The challenges are many, and I think I wasn’t ready for many of them,” says Shaz Khan of going into business with his friend Antonio Gambino. “So we were very clear about what questions we needed to ask and what style of communication we needed to implement to convey everything.”

The duo began their journey to the restaurant by opening Andrea Pizza and Frank de Philly separately. Tono Pizzeria & Cheesesteak combines the two kitchens under one roof and focuses on the dining experience in a fast and casual setting.

The Minnesota-based restaurant now has four locations across the state, and Khan has used his engineering training to implement effective growth strategies.

“Part of the conversation about scale is logistics and systems,” says Shaz Khan, Restaurant Influencers podcast host Shawn P. Walchef of CaliBBQ Media.

One of these systems was to personally select employees to make sure the company was scaling up productively. Decide to go with friends who have a set of specific skills that could be used to promote the brand.

“We knew that these two people were not only very good friends of ours, but they also had great insight, but they also brought a piece of the puzzle to the team so that we could continue to expand and climb.” says Khan of the people he chose to start forming his team.

As strategic as they may have been, Khan and company still faced challenges when it came to growing and adding restaurants. Again, knowledge of Khan’s processes due to his formal background has made him flexible enough to understand that these processes are not written in stone and may need to be modified as business needs change.

This includes switching to Toast products to help implemented systems become more efficient. Shaz Khan’s ability to provide valuable feedback has helped expand Tono Pizzeria and Cheesesteaks and allowed him to serve on Toast’s Customer Advisory Board.

As the Tono brand thrives, it is important that Khan remains authentic and understands the story behind his brand. According to him, this story is what creates the connection that causes the migration of potential customers to those who prefer one brand to another.

“We make sure that everything about the brand, from the colors to the logo to the food, to the food, to the experience, to the smell, I mean, everything is representative of what this story is and what experience we want people to have. . live with. ” says Khan.

Long game. Actionable steps based on data derived from the implementation of the systems and the necessary adjustments when necessary.

This is the sustainability framework that has driven Shaz Khan and Tono Pizzeria and Cheesesteaks to the level they are today, and the continued rise on the horizon.



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Toast: Promoting Successful Restaurants Learn more about Toast.

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