We again welcome back “Uncle Paul” Hauke , one of the original founders of Tony Boloney’s Indigenous Pizzeria & Subs in Atlantic City, NJ . Tony Boloney’s is the winner of the Guy Fieri Food Channel Cheesesteak Battle and the Kelly and Michael Food Truck Cookoff. It is Uncle Paul’s Cheesesteak Ole recipe served both times that won Tony Boloney’s the title’s.
We want to thank you for your prior interviews about the beginning and the development of Tony Boloney’s Indigenous Pizzeria & Subs in Atlantic City, NJ.
Now, this is our fifth interview with “Uncle Paul” of Tony Boloney’s Pizzeria & Subs fame.
Atlantic City Food Guide: Thank you, as always, “Uncle Paul” for taking this time to talk with us.
“Uncle Paul”: Thank you for inviting me.
Atlantic City Food Guide: It’s amazing that this is the fifth interview. We started these interviews back in August.
“Uncle Paul”: Wow, it’s amazing how fast time goes.
Atlantic City Food Guide: Yes, it definitely moves fast. Now on that note, we hear that Tony Boloney’s is planning to expand to North Jersey. Yes?
“Uncle Paul”: That’s what I hear.
Atlantic City Food Guide: That’s what we hear also. Can you give us the inside scoop?
“Uncle Paul”: When I set up Tony Boloney’s in Atlantic City, the goal was to build a top quality Pizzeria with name brand recognition. Once the Pizzeria was operating at 100% we would look at expansion. Mike Hauke , was not involved in the beginning. When he got involved later he was “gung ho” on expansion before the Atlantic City Tony Boloney’s was up and running, and way before it was running at 100%. What I mean by 100% is that when the food quality, the service , the facility, the help, etc was all running at 100% then and only then could we consider expansion.
Atlantic City Food Guide: Are they at 100% on all of those?
“Uncle Paul”: As far as I can see, no. I mean, today with Yelp and Trip Advisor it is easy to follow the success of a business. When you are at 100% with all that I just mentioned and your reviews confirm that , then and only then you are a success. And only at that time do you expand. And you expand with the loyal and well trained employees who know exactly how you want your business run, and they learned it from you. Tony Boloney’s has had issues with poor reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor that have not been satisfactorily resolved with the customer.
Atlantic City Food Guide: Ok , we’re confused. Are you involved in the expansion?
“Uncle Paul”: No, I am not.
Atlantic City Food Guide: And may we ask why not?
“Uncle Paul”: Absolutely. Well , as we all know from the previous interviews Mike came into the business later after it was all set up; recipes, new restaurant facilities, great marketing plan in place etc. Originally, a fellow named Mario who had a great amount of Pizzeria experience ran the business. He came with many , many great recipes that are still in use today, and taught Mike the food side of the Pizzeria business. I also gave Mike some great recipes that are still in use at Tony Boloney’s today. One great recipe is the Cheese Steak Ole.
Later , Mike had the restaurant turned over to him and he brought in a friend of his named Nick who ran the restaurant for a short time and then left. Mike then took over completely. Mike has followed my advice as to the Marketing , Recipes, etc. However, Mike has not kept on track with the running and the management side of Restaurant, Employees, public image, etc.
An example would be the “Pizza Slaughterfest;” a great idea gone bad. The original idea and primary purpose was to raise money for Cancer Treatment for the non profit “Alex’s Lemonade Stand”. Unfortunately , it became a money making enterprise for Tony Boloney’s, with tens of thousands of dollars generated by the attendees and taken in by Tony Boloney’s. This I greatly disagreed with. Eventually, “Alex’s Lemonade Stand “ no longer participated. The last year that they did Mike donated only $3,000.00 to the charity.
I have always donated my time to Mike , Tony Boloney’s , the Pizza Slaughterfest and to “Alex’s Lemonade Stand”. Many , many people and groups donated their time also to the Pizza Slaughterfest under the premise that it was a charitable event, when it was actually a money making opportunity for Mike , his father Gregory Hauke, and Tony Boloney’s. I have never made a penny nor was I ever looking to make a penny from the “Pizza Slaughterfest”. This was and still is a major disagreement between Mike, his father Gregory Hauke and myself.
The next disagreement I had with Mike was that he did not pay all the winning contestants in the “Pizza Slaughterfest” ; Winning particpants and professional eaters who complained like US Male and Dale Boone. As a result it was hard to get “qualified” contestants for the later events. The last event was held in 2012.
Problems that I see today are bad reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor and no response or inadequate responses from Mike. In all my business dealings in the last fourty years I have always adhered to the old quote that the “customer is always right” period. Mike has forgotten that lesson. He does not pay attention to all the reviews and get the customer back to being happy. Do not get into a confrontation, especially on social media. This brings to mind a recent twitter entry by a customer complaining that his delivery order took 3 ½ hours, after he was told 1 ½ hours. Mike answered the customer on the Tony Boloneys twitter account in an aggravating tone and tried to justify the 3 ½ hour delivery time. Outrageous behavior. Truthfully , not only is a 3 ½ hours delivery time outrageous, but even a 1 ½ hour delivery time is outrageous.
Sorry for going on so long, but these are important issues to me and because Mike and his father Gregory Hauke don’t agree I stopped giving my free advice and time to them. To be 100 % successful you have to be willing and able to listen to reason and always do the right thing.
Atlantic City Food Guide; Ok ,that’s very interesting. And please do not worry about how long you talk, because everything you say is so very important. So, getting back to what we discussed earlier, do you think that Tony Boloney’s expansion will be successful?
“Uncle Paul”: Look, I know that Tony Boloneys has won awards with my Cheese Steak Ole sub Recipe. But, that is only one aspect of hundreds of things needed to run a great restaurant. Running a second restaurant adds more hundreds of things needed. I wish Mike only the best. He has talents, but those talents are continually minimized by his faults that he does not rectify. Perhaps he is in a denial mode; if so he needs to snap out of it to be a complete success. As I said earlier I believe he is expanding too fast.
Atlantic City Food Guide: Only time will tell?
“Uncle Paul”: Yes , only time will tell. I will say this “good luck Mike”. Do not forget everything I taught you. Most importantly, you must crawl before you walk, and walk before you run and the “customer is always right.”
Atlantic City Food Guide: Is that all, after your last long answer?
‘Uncle Paul”: Well, you know, A lot of Mike’s and Tony Boloney’s success is because of my teachings from my educational background, numerous very successful businesses, some of them being the largest in the United States, and my time and training programs with Iffpf Media LLC as CEO. As the saying goes, “you can lead the horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink.” It’s up to Mike to make the Tony Boloney’s in Atlantic City and the proposed one in North Jersey successful.
When Mike first came into Tony Boloney’s in Atlantic City years ago I sat down with him and discussed what he wanted to do. I remember him telling me right off the bat that he wanted to expand the business. When I asked him how, he had no answer and was speechless. A few minutes passed as he thought about it. He then said , “well I live in New York City and this traveling to Atlantic City is a killer.” “Maybe I’ll just expand and open up by New York City and not worry about Atlantic City; sell it or close it. I don’t know.” Well, just maybe that’s the expansion plan. I don’t know.
Atlantic City Food Guide: Thanks “Uncle Paul”. Always a pleasure.
‘Uncle Paul”: Always a pleasure and thank you for having me on.