For the last 10 years, Marcella and Matt McManus have savored delicious hoagies from the neighborhood eatery, Giuliano’s Deli. Located just two blocks from their Glenside home, the couple became regulars at the local spot specializing in Italian hoagies, a variety of hot and cold sandwiches and beer.
When owners Rose and Tony Giuliano announced they were retiring from the business that their parents started in January 1982, Marcella and Matt jumped at the chance to take the reins.
“We didn’t want somebody to come in and take over and change the whole vibe,” Marcella said. “We started talking to the owner and she started to consider what (selling the business) would look like.”
The couple sought guidance from SCORE Bucks County mentor Steve Wolfson, who has 40 years’ experience in wholesale distribution and has expertise in starting multiple business locations.
Wolfson connected them with an attorney to help with the business acquisition, as well as a business insurance broker. He also prepared them for what questions to ask, what to look for, and made them aware of “warning signs” to consider when purchasing a business.
“He was a great sounding board,” Matt said. “Steve was phenomenal.”
SCORE volunteers provide no-cost mentoring services throughout the life of a business based on an individual business or entrepreneur’s unique needs.
Wolfson is confident the new business owners will continue the successful tradition of the beloved deli.
“During the process of negotiating the sell price, and reviewing the financial picture, current and past, Marcella worked part-time there learning every part of the business in advance of the sale,” Wolfson said. “They were great to mentor and worked very hard to make this happen.”
Going forward, Marcella said Wolfson will help keep the business owners on track – which given how busy they have been since taking the helm in October – will be an important feat.
“I look forward to the accountability of him helping us,” Marcella said. “I can see at least for myself it would be very easy to put that on the backburner.”
Matt, a full-time software engineer by day, will oversee evenings at the business and beer sales. Coming on the heels of an extremely busy October as the Phillies competed in the World Series, Matt would like to offer more beer-focused events.
Marcella, who helped her family run their soft pretzel business, Country Twist LLC, throughout high school, and college, is excited to expand the deli’s menu offerings.
“The menu is great as-is. They have the best hoagies around,” she said, adding that developing a vegetarian hoagie, rotating in seasonal specials, and offering more soup options for fall and winter are priorities.
The new owners are following the adage, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” when it comes to the deli.
“The allure of a small business is to be part of the community,” Matt said. “There are folks who are coming in who are in their 60s who have been coming as kids.”
Reflecting on the myriad aspects of the acquisition process, Matt emphasized the importance of taking one step at a time and keeping a narrow focus. And when several of the processes presented them with uncertainty and worry, he said they were relieved to “fall back on Steve.”
“I know I have someone in my court that’s advocating for me,” he said. “It makes it that much less challenging.”