Growth is Good: Sustaining Success is Great!

The life path of an entrepreneur is never clear.  The compelling need to grow is constantly at war with the tranquility that results from a well run operation.  The entrepreneur will achieve success with one business operation, or business model and think “One was great, so two would be twice as great”.

That lure for growth is so powerful.  Growth is recognized and rewarded.  Inc. Magazine celebrates the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Companies.  Many other business media outlets recognize the importance of growth.

I have suffered from this growth affliction.  My entrepreneurship history includes two massive failures, each involving seven figures in losses.  The result of these losses was a leap in emotional intelligence.

Growth is good: sustaining success is great!

There is a movement to provide media and academic exposure to companies who choose to not focus on just revenue growth, but to instead focus on the societal values of facilitating employee growth, supporting the organization’s local communities while generating profits. Those companies are small giants – as described in Bo Burlingham’s book, Small Giants.

There is a group of these great companies that belong to the Small Giants Community, Bo Burlingham and Paul Spiegelman of Beryl Corporation are the driving force behind this community.

Our  family of companies, Tasty Catering, That’s Caring and nuphorIQ belong to the Small Giants Community.  The community is global as well as local.  One member of the Small Giants Community from the Chicago Metro area is Nick Sarillo, owner of Nick’s Pizza and Pub. He has locations in Crystal Lake and Elgin.  Nick’s approach to his staff and his community matches his intense desire to produce an excellent product.

The recent downturn in the economy coupled with road construction in front of his Elgin location has crippled his operation, but not his spirit.

Please read the following note that was sent to Nick’s Pizza & Pub’s guest list.  This communication should be part of every university’s entrepreneur course work.  I salute Nick Sarillo for being an exceptional business leader and will do what I can to assist him in his struggle to survive.

Remember business owners like Nick who are in your community when it is time to spend your disposable income, they make your community better. Give your support and recognition to the business owners that teach morals, ethics and the gratification of a great work ethic to entry level teenagers. There are many parents who have told me how glad their children started at Nick’s.

I am proud to know Nick and to learn from Nick.

Nick’s Pizza & Pub
September 27, 2011


As a valued frequent guest of our restaurant, I feel it is necessary to share the following with you.

An Uncertain Future

I have never understood why owners or management of a failing company usually don’t give others close to the company–especially customers–fair warning about what is going on. In many instances, the team, the core family that built the business, has showed up to work and found the doors locked. I have always said I would never do that to the people I truly care about and owe my life to.

I realize that sending an e-mail like this is risky and unorthodox, but I don’t care because I don’t have anything to fear or hide.  We run our business with totally open books, and the core team that shows up to our weekly fiscal huddles will not be surprised by what I’m writing. I truly care about our team and each guest who has blessed us by choosing to eat at Nick’s instead of any of the many other places available to them.

As of the beginning of this week, the hard reality facing us has become glaringly apparent to me. We overbuilt and overspent, and then we didn’t cut fast enough or hard enough when sales started to go downhill. The issue is primarily with our Elgin restaurant, but because we are one company, the failure of Elgin will likely impact Crystal Lake as well, depending on the choices our bank makes. This failure is not the fault of our team members; on the contrary, I am extremely grateful to them for their incredible contributions, including accepting salary cuts, taking on more responsibilities, and volunteering to market us on their own time.  The whole responsibility for our troubles is mine for making the bad decisions that got us into this mess.

I realize that many of you out there see a busy restaurant and don’t understand how we cannot be profitable, or as many of you have expressed, how we could not be “rolling in cash.” We do bring in a lot of revenue, but unfortunately that is not enough to cover our mortgage and the other expenses that accrue from having such large facilities. In 2008, sales at our Elgin location began to drop, causing that location to lose money. Fortunately, Crystal Lake was profitable enough to cover both restaurants most of the time.  As of this year, that’s no longer true. The sales drop in Elgin alone has been 30% since last year and close to 40% since 2007, thanks largely to the bad economy and our location next to the road construction.

We thought that the opening of a new Walmart across the street from Elgin on October 26th would bring enough new traffic to save that location and our company. Unfortunately, the bills that we have been pushing back this year are catching up with us now, about four weeks short of the finish line.  Barring some sort of miracle, we are going to run out of cash to pay our vendors and team members over the next couple of weeks and will have to close. Believe me, I have already tried everything possible and would not be writing this if the amount we needed was not many thousands of dollars more than I personally could come up with. I really did believe we were going to make it to the finish line and pull through this, but I have nothing left that I can sell, pawn, or promise–just my business, which now is on the table.

I do have one last hope for me and the 200 team members of Nick’s. If within these next four weeks we could see a large increase in sales at either of our restaurants, we could still pull through. So my final request is for each of you to come dine at Nick’s Pizza & Pub and tell all your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to come now, too. We want to continue on as a part of your commuity and aren’t ready to tell you goodbye yet. If you wish to contact me with investor ideas or any ideas or questions at all, you can email me at, call me at 815.356.5557, or simply stop by and talk in person. Thank you for reading.


Nick Sarillo

Founder and owner of Nick’s Pizza & Pub


856 Pyott Rd., Crystal Lake, 815.356.5550

990 S. Randall Rd., Elgin, 847.531.5550



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