By the time Marc Falsetto graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in finance in 2002, he had already made a name for himself as one of the top promoters in Orlando with his original brand, Primo Entertainment. He recognized his knack for sniffing out deals and increasing operational efficiency paired well with his eye for design and hospitality. So when the financial crisis hit in 2008, Falsetto had settled in South Florida and realized the restaurant industry was his true calling.
While the foundations of his restaurant career were firmly established back in his days as a promoter, his first real venture began in 2011 with buying back his family restaurant and reintroducing it as Primo’s Italian Restaurant & Lounge.
Fast forward eight years, and Falsetto created Handcrafted Hospitality, where he currently serves as CEO. The multi-level hospitality company holds six award-winning concepts: The Apothecary 330, Henry’s, Tacocraft, Anthony’s Pronto Kitchen, Pizzacraft, and Anthony’s Runway 84.
The company expanded by 10 restaurants in three years, with the original Tacocraft hitting $2 million in annual sales out of its 1,400 square-foot location.
While these concepts have certainly made a splash in the South Floridian restaurant landscape, the 2022 relaunch of Anthony’s Runway 84 is particularly exciting for Falsetto.
The Italian American eatery has been a Fort Lauderdale staple since 1982, owned by Anthony Bruno and his family. Falsetto worked closely with Bruno on numerous ventures such as Tacocraft and Anthony’s Coalfire Pizza, a brand that sold in 2017.
Runway 84 is near and dear to Falsetto’s heart. He says, “I celebrated my 21st birthday there … I have always had the idea of doing a fine dining Italian restaurant, so when the opportunity came in to help spearhead the renovations [with Bruno] for its 40-year anniversary, I thought it would be a promising idea.”
Falsetto’s main goal was to appeal to Runway 84’s core customers and a whole new generation without losing what made the concept great in the first place: iconic red sauce, fresh seafood, and an extensive cocktail menu and wine list.
Most of the renovations dealt with the design of the restaurant. Falsetto says that they were looking to take the design back to “the golden years of the restaurant business.”
“We wanted to take it back to the 1960s, really play of that old school hospitality,” Falsetto says. “[We were inspired by] the likes of Goodfellas and Coco Cabana.”
Falsetto added classic design elements such as tufted leather booths and low ceilings to make customers feel as though they were in the Goodfellas movie themselves. He revitalized the live music program, mixing old aspects of Runway 84 with the trendsetting nature of Handcrafted Hospitality.
The renovation process took 10 months in total, beginning in May 2022. Upon completion, Falsetto knew that customer reactions would be a “touchy situation” as balancing the retention of old customers and acquisition of new ones can be tricky.
He also added that the changing demographics of Florida, notably the amount of money coming into South Florida, played a key role in his design decisions. He wanted Runway 84 to reflect and cater towards an elevated experience.
“We thought that we were going to lose [older customers], but they ended up loving it more than anything,” Falsetto says. “The feedback has been tremendous. They love the traditional dishes and our new additions like the prime steak program. They love the live music nightly. This is what Handcrafted Hospitality is known for.”
With the restoration completed for Runway 84, Falsetto is venturing to different ideas, such as an elevated steakhouse in Fort Lauderdale.
“I’m going to be taking more ventures into higher end fine dining,” Falsetto says. “We’re also working with some hotels to curate some food and beverage programs with them too.”
As for Handcrafted Hospitality’s other brands, Falsetto is eager to expand throughout Florida, with Tacocraft locations projected in Boca, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando. A unit in Coral Springs will be complete in 2024.
Overall, Handcrafted Hospitality continues to pioneer in the casual dining and fine dining spaces, growing in South Florida and acquiring new projects, such as a new pizza concept that will join his repertoire in the near future.