Monday, February 23, 2015

Meet Your Merchant - Ava's Pizzeria and Wine Bar

Name Of Business: Ava’s Pizzeria and Wine Bar
Location: 409 S. Talbot Street, St. Michaels, MD
Phone number: (410) 745-3081
Hours of operation: Open daily at 11:30

Who are the owners? Chris Agharabi
How and why you started your business?
Chris came to St Michaels from Montgomery County, MD.  Chris attended L'Academie de Cuisine’s professional school in Gaithersburg.

There was an empty building on Talbot Street that fit the bill for a main street pizza place. After extensive renovations that continue to this day, he contacted a fellow chef and classmate to bring on board to help run the kitchen. Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar opened it’s doors in September, 2008.

What do you sell/make/do?  
Ava’s is best known for the thin crust pizza, baked in a wood-burning oven and made with the freshest ingredients available. In addition to pizza, we serve salads, signature sandwiches, our almost famous meatballs, local seafood and pastas and desserts. You will also note a nod to the cuisine of New Orleans, with items like our wasabi oyster po’boy, BBQ shrimp and eastern shore “beignets”. We make everything we possibly can on premise - our dough, salad dressings, desserts, tomato gravy and even our fresh mozzarella.

Where is your business located and why did you chose your location?
We are right on the main street in town, but a couple of blocks up from the central part of St Michaels where most of the shops and restaurants are located. The building was converted from an old goose picking house quite a few years ago. 
When Chris purchased the property, there was already a second building out back, which was converted to a prep kitchen, and room for a small parking area. A small addition was made to the back of the building to make room for the wood-burning pizza oven. Guests can watch our pizza guys in action from the dining room.

What strategies do you use to draw people to your establishment?
We strive to put out a consistently delicious product and like to provide our guests with friendly, prompt and knowledgeable service. We believe that's what keeps people coming back. We have been quite fortunate with word of mouth in the community, as well as travel websites such as Trip Advisor.
Ava’s also employs 40 people year round, and many of our staff have been at Ava’s for a long time.  One has even been here since day one. Many customers like coming back and seeing the same friendly faces.

What is your strategies for growth in the next year?  
We just enclosed our patio with a structure that keeps the rain and cold out during inclement weather, but can be converted back to an open space when the weather is nice. This provides guests with more seating through the winter, which helps reduce the number of people waiting and the wait times, especially on busy holiday weekends.
We also see growth in wedding and corporate event business.  St. Michaels is already a great wedding destination. With more room for event space at both Ava’s and Theo’s Steak House, we are hoping to partner with other businesses to provide packages  for rehearsal dinners, ladies weekends, corporate retreats and family gatherings.

What is the best thing about running a business here? 
Our customers. We have a great local clientele.  St. Michaels residents and businesses have been very supportive of our business from day one, THANK YOU!  
In addition to all sorts of visitors from all over the world, some guests come around the same time every year on their annual or semi-annual trips to the shore. Some of our customers have also reported that they have taken a day trip to St Michaels from the western shore just to come to Ava’s.

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