I think we can all agree that there is nothing quite as delicious as a big slice of pizza. Toppings debate aside, there’s no denying that a crisp get delicious base, glorious passata-style sauce and cheese is a winning combination for pretty much everyone. Well, this is exactly what Richard Harford and his group of friends thought when they transformed Harford’s deli-style shop into Trinidad’s first-ever pizza parlour back in 1972. Now over 50 years later, Harford has expanded the brand and restaurants from a single shop to 26 restaurants across Trinidad and Tobago, crafting Mario’s Pizzeria as not just an iconic brand but a name that represents the joy, community, and unity that the shop was established on all those years ago.
Founded on friendship in 1972, Richard Harford, or ‘Slice’ as he is better known, opened the deli-style spot with a friend in the Valpark Shopping Centre focusing on selling sandwiches, roti, and drinks. The spot was an instant success bringing customers from all around. However, after Harford’s friends returned from their studies abroad, they arrived back in Trinidad with a pizza oven and the hopes that Harford would change the deli-style spot to a pizza parlour – the first of its kind in the country. With a little convincing, Harford and 4 of his friends established Mario’s Pizzeria Limited, and opened its doors to the people of Trinidad.
Pizza was still relatively new in Trinidad, and was not super widespread for its popularity, however, the team achieved high approval from its customers by adapting the original mozzarella you might find on an Italian pizza with cheddar cheese. This swap proved popular with the people of Trinidad, and accompanied by a range of freshly prepared vegetables and meats the pizza began flying out the door, and so the brand was an instant hit with people across the region. However, much of the success of the business is seen largely to be due to Harford’s commitment to the pizza parlour. His work ethic and exacting standards ensured that every pizza was made with love and care, and every customer received warm and friendly service to ensure they wanted to come back time and time again.
However, Mario’s Pizzeria saw a bump in the road when Trinidad’s economy started to swing south, leading to all of Harford’s business partners selling their shares of the business to Harford. Despite the economic downturn of the country, Harford strived ahead and continued to steadily grow the business across further restaurant locations and regions. Now, under Mario’s Pizzeria Limited, there are 26 restaurant locations across the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago, with further expansions into Guyana.
Harford is striving to expand further across more territories, and hopefully, one day establish itself as a global brand in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry. The company hopes to be fully established within the English-speaking Caribbean over the next 10 years and is looking at further expansions into South America to bring its pizza delights to even more customers. Notable, the chain has already expanded from its pizza offerings, to also include burgers, sandwiches, and fried chicken across its restaurant locations. Therefore, Mario’s Pizzeria Limited has established itself as a crucial name in the restaurant and quick-service industry, that is actively working to develop its reach to bring great, flavourful, and delicious offerings across the wider global industry.
One thing that is clear about Mario’s Pizzeria is that there is a strong sense of unity and community behind the company. Harford has been committed since its beginning to ensuring that customer experience is top-notch, by only hiring staff who believe in providing the same top-quality service with a smile. In line with this, the company provides coupons for its regular customers, and additional coupon offers on customers’ birthdays to again establish its commitment to providing a great dining experience to its customers which feels like they are part of a community family. This is extended into Mario Pizzeria’s online presence with its social media channels supporting local causes and sponsoring events in the local community. Earlier this year in April 2023, the company again showed its commitment to giving back with Harford presenting a $5000 cheque to the Board of Directors at Adonna Institute for Orphans. The cheque for Adonna Institute for Orphans signifies Mario Pizzeria’s role in the community to provide vital funding to projects and organisations across the local area. Furthermore, they are the sponsor of many football tournaments in the local area, providing the players with lots of delicious pizza post-match.
Overall, Mario’s Pizzeria Limited is a community-oriented pizza parlour that has set its sights on the global markets, whilst still ensuring that throughout every restaurant and franchise, the same top-quality service and tasty food is consistently available. As the renowned ‘Pizza King’, you can be sure that with Mario’s Pizzeria that you are getting delicious slices just the way you like them, with the added bonus that when you are buying from the business you are supporting local community efforts and a self-started business that continues to grow across the globe.