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No Pineapple on Pizza: The DOC Group Story

No Pineapple on Pizza: The DOC Group Story

DOC Group has an ethos based on absolute authenticity.

It’s in their name, DOC standing for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or Designation of Origin in English. They strive to ensure that there’s nothing on their menu that can’t be found in restaurants back home in Italy.

If you’re the type of person that prefers pineapple on their pizza, be prepared for an education.

And it’s served them well. DOC Group has been in operation for 20 years, and it’s showing no signs of fading.

Keep reading to learn how DOC Group retains such a strong Italian identity from the other side of the world.

A solid grounding

“As soon as the visa was accomplished I started to work at DOC.”

Simone Staltari, General Manager at DOC Group, is what we in the hospitality industry call a ‘lifer’. He’s not in it to make ends meet whilst he studies or as a stopgap until something in his true passion comes up.

No, his true passion is hospitality. 

He knows the value in bringing authentic, good time to the masses, and it’s something he’s been doing for a very long time.

Simone: “In Italy it was a fine dining restaurant. That’s where I worked when I learned the basics—it was a family friend. And then that started my passion for hospitality. And that’s where I kept developing it throughout the years.”

It’s this grounding in the hospitality industry back in Italy that provides something invaluable which many Italian restaurants lack, and it’s something which DOC Group knows is an asset worth having. After all, can you provide a truly authentic Italian dining experience if the people providing it have never experienced it first hand?

Simone: “I came from Italy about 10 years ago. First it was just to learn English, really. I decided to start the path to stay here. So you know, there was the whole visa thing that I’ve done in a town just outside Melbourne, and as soon as the visa was accomplished I started to work at DOC.” 

Want to know more about DOC & Lightspeed?

Learn about how DOC Group turned to Lightspeed to find a POS platform to match their high standards

Italian to their core

“We classify ourselves as an Italian company in Australia.”

DOC Group knew they had a gem on their hands in Simone. He had ideas on how to keep improving the company, and they listened and let Simone implement them.

Simone: “I was looking for a different challenge. I started off as a venue manager, and then, shortly after, I just started to put in place my ideas and then started taking a different role in the company.”

Simone understood the core value of DOC Group: as authentic an Italian restaurant experience as possible.

Simone: “I’m striving to ensure that we provide good services and good food without going into ridiculous prices. You pay for quality, but it doesn’t have to be extremely expensive. So that’s what we strive for really, also as DOC, right? Providing an authentic experience like it would be in Italy, but you got in Australia.” 

This has been achieved by ensuring that everything in the company adheres to this value, down to their people.

Simone: “We classify ourselves as an Italian company in Australia. That’s who we are. Most of—a lot of our people—are Italian that work with us, the upper management is pretty much all Italians.”

Strengths and respect

“If you ask a fish to climb a tree it’s not gonna be very successful.”

When it comes to managing their team, DOC Group operates on a set of principles, knowing that hospitality can be an industry prone to some less-than-ideal working practices.

Simone: “So basically, we base our company on three principles. The first one is the work/life balance. So for us the working week is anywhere between 30-42 hours. Nothing above that is considered acceptable.”

This is key. Having a schedule that balances workload with enough hours to make a living provides a certain security for their team as well as a level of respect for their time and energy.

Simone: “The second one is the work environment. First and foremost, we are all people. Being able to support one another at work and answering what are people’s points of strength and sort of hide their weaknesses—or work on their weaknesses—is the way we operate. If you ask a fish to climb a tree it’s not gonna be very successful. But maybe there are other things that they may be good at.” 

Acknowledging the greatest quote from a Lightspeed customer to date, Simone illustrates his point perfectly. Identifying that everybody is operating with different skill sets and putting them in their strongest positions is a surefire way towards a successful service.

Simone: “And the third point is the customer satisfaction. For us it is critical that everybody always remembers what we are trying to do, what we are, how we want to be portrayed and what we want to serve.”

Value in tradition

“We really want people to feel comfortable…”

Alas, when discussing anything to do with DOC Group, all roads lead back to authenticity. It is, after all, their main goal, and they’re here to show everybody that Italian food is better—much better—than most Australians, raised on San Remo jarred sauce and Primo salami, even realise.

Simone: “Us being around for 20 years, we’ve always been the contemporary Italian, right? So our menu is what you will likely be getting in Italy as well. You can find on our menu what you will find exactly in Italy. It’s not something left to the eighties.” 

Italian food—real Italian food—is all about simplicity and quality working together to create something so much greater than the sum of its parts. There is value in traditions that have stood the test of time.

Simone: “What makes us unique is our principle of product, authenticity and quality. We always stick by it and we don’t change. It’s not like somebody comes to the door and asks for a pappardelle porcini with bacon, and we’re gonna give it to them. The dishes have a history, and they are the way they are because they are meant to be that way, and they’re not supposed to be changed.”

This isn’t to say that the Italian hospitality scene is immune to change, only that it is open to the types of changes that serve the product rather than the people.

Simone: “I mean, now they’ve started using pineapple as well on pizzas also in Italy. Well, there is one chef that does, one very famous chef in Naples. I’m sure he got a lot of visibility for it, that’s for sure. But you know, most Italian people will still be a no to pineapple on the pizza.”

This is something anybody with a respect for authenticity can support, and I, for one, will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Italians. Pineapple does not belong anywhere near a pizza.

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