Liza Bello is an entrepreneur, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Alumni, and PIDC client on the path to growth and we’re excited to be a part of her story! We recently celebrated the Grand Opening of Mercer Café’s new location at The Navy Yard. Even during this exciting and busy time Liza had a few moments to spare and share her story with us.
Describe your restaurant to our readers.
LB: Mercer Café is a family-owned and operated restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch options. It was started by my mom & dad at our first location in Port Richmond and now my brother and I are operating the second location at The Navy Yard helping to grow the business. In addition to the Mercer Café favorites, our new location also serves our famous Tacconelli’s pizza.
We opened our first location in 2000 with 10 employees and our second location now has 30 employees. Most of our staff has been around at least 8 years which shows the great working environment and our employee loyalty. We are also proud to have the talented Tim Amoroso as our head chef.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur and how did you get your start in the restaurant business?
LB: I grew up above the Somerset Street Tacconelli’s Pizzeria, which is owned by my grandparents. I always helped my grandparents make the pizza dough and answer the phones. I tried different things in my career, and always came back to work with the family.
How did you decide The Navy Yard would be a perfect place to open a new location?
LB: We looked all over the city and nothing felt right but when we came to The Navy Yard and saw the growth, development, and culture, we knew this was it! There was a need for a place like Mercer.
How do you distinguish your restaurant from all the others out there?
LB: We give extra love and a special touch in every meal. We go out of our way to accommodate all customers’ needs. We create a warm friendly place for people to come and eat great homemade food at a fair price!
Describe your process for designing the menu?
LB: A lot of the menu items are based on family recipes and things we like to eat and what we hear from our customers.
What are some Mercer Café signature dishes we must try?
LB: Besides the pizza, the crab cake is mom-mom’s recipe – filled with jumbo lump crab. Our chicken salad sandwich is mom’s recipe – hand pulled chicken, made fresh every day. Our caesar salad dressing – dad’s recipe and the Paninis are very popular too!
What has the assistance from PIDC allowed you to accomplish with your business?
LB: The whole restaurant wouldn’t have been possible. It would take a long time through other traditional methods. We couldn’t have done it without PIDC!
How was your experience as a scholar in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program?
LB: Life changing! It was inspiring to be with the people in my class and the speakers were great. My mindset changed and I got the confidence to go forward with the new restaurant. I learned how to be a leader to employees, manage time and be successful and profitable. Now I have the tools and resources to continue to grow our family business.
Do you have any advice for other small business owners?
LB: Just keep pushing, don’t give up. If you have a dream, pursue it. It takes a lot of hard work and patience, but don’t give up. Be prepared to be tired! But it’s worth it. Hard work pays off.
Get your taste of Mercer Café at The Navy Yard today!
The Navy Yard
4920 S. 15th Street
Hours: M-F 7am-4pm