Vita Totta borrowed $1000 to open the Italian restaurant that immediately became a part of the culture for Kansas City residents. When she asked Blue Ridge Bank for the initial loan to help her launch her business alongside her husband, Jay, the banker wasn’t even familiar with the term “pizza parlor”. The year was 1963, and now, over 55 years later, V’s Italian Ristorante has become a family owned, time honored tradition for patrons who call the cozy dining room home.
Particularly famous for the baked chicken (which is a private party exclusive) and the fresh pasta dishes, V’s Italian Ristorante has withstood the test of time. With a team that’s willing to evolve and adjust, V’s has done what many restaurants are unable to: stay true to its roots while still staying at the forefront of the service industry’s changing tides.
Though some regulars of V’s have been visiting nearly since the beginning, new business is still the name of the game. With new offerings cropping up seemingly at a moment’s notice, restaurants must stay on top of service, quality, and variety in order to keep grinding out successful years. So, getting the comforting tastes of “Momma V’s” kitchen in front of new people is an ongoing priority.
“We were one of the first restaurants to sign up with Uber Eats in (Kansas City) in 2017,” V’s dining room manager Greg Hunsucker said. “We earn a lot of business with that. It’s a good way to get our food to people who may not have heard of us before or don’t want to go out for a formal dinner.”
Customer service is another focal point that Greg says really sets the V’s family apart from the competition. Much of the staff is comprised of family members — for Momma V, hard work is a way of life, and that work ethic can be seen in the younger generations working there today.
“I can’t tell you how many nights I’ll be locking up and I’ll find my grandmother painting something or working on a project,” Greg said. “She doesn’t stop and she’s instilled in all of us that you have to do what you have to do in order for a business to survive.”
V’s Italian Ristorante was also one of the early restaurants to become a PEPPR Partner, as Greg and the rest of his family believe that being visible and offering services on multiple platforms is a key ingredient to staying power. For large group events, Greg says, V’s is the perfectly intimate setting. For everything from wedding rehearsals to memorial gatherings, V’s has become a popular group dining restaurant in Kansas City thanks to simple requirements (no room rental fee, no hidden costs) and ample space to host groups of all sizes.
“We have three private dining areas in the restaurant,” Greg explained. “One seats about 45, and then we have another that can seat about 135 on the lower level. To even have the space to do a larger gathering is hard to find, and we did over 120 private events in December alone, so you can trust that we have the experience to make the event memorable.”
Certainly, maintaining a successful business for nearly six decades is an incredible feat. Momma V and her family have continued to run V’s Italian Ristorante with enthusiasm and dedication. It’s not always a rewarding industry, but at the end of the day the family knows they’ll always have each other’s back.
“We don’t have corporate deep pockets to pull out of if things get tough,” Greg said. “Dining goes up and down with the economy, but we’ve been able to weather the storm. It’s a total family affair.”