[Very Very Valet]2 Staten Islanders find success with valet service during the pandemic
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shuttered all non-essential businesses, and reduced restaurants to only take out and delivery, there was little need for valet service.
For this reason, many valet companies shut down for good, said Great Kills resident Michael Venturino, 31.
That helped him and friend, Kujtim “Timmy” Avdiu, 25, of Dogan Hills — who together launched Premier Valet Coast To Coast LLC. in June 2019 — to suddenly become very busy with new and existing clients once restaurants and other businesses got the green light to reopen amid the pandemic.
Now, they not only have clients in the Tri-state area, but on the West Coast as well, said Venturino.
Pictured are the owners and employees of Premier Valet Coast To Coast LLC. (Courtesy of Michael Venturino)
SURVIVING THE PANDEMIC
Having launched the business just months prior to the pandemic, Venturino said most of his clients were restaurants and funeral homes. While most of these businesses remained shuttered or had to abide by stringent capacity limits, Venturino said he had one client that allowed the business to stay afloat during the pandemic:
“I got a call from a high-end kosher supermarket, called Pomegrante Supermarket, in Brooklyn that wanted to do valet. I started that job on March 14, the day after the pandemic happened. That was my only location that I had going because it was an essential business,” said Venturino. “That kept me afloat for a good year.”
He said if it wasn’t for that client, he and his partner would have had to shut down the company.
“[The pandemic] almost made us go under and lose everything. I tried to file for a PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loan, and I got denied because the business was so new,” said Venturino.
THE ‘TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT’
As more businesses reopened when vaccination rates went up and COVID mandates were reduced, Venturino and his partner started to obtain more clients.
“I kept going to locations, dropping off a business card, meeting them, and in turn, having them like me and like what I bring to the table. …Once you get that one location, it’s a trickle down effect. … Business owners start talking to other business owners, like ‘Hey, I got this valet company. They’re great, you should use them.’”
Before they knew it, the business partners had 40 clients within Staten Island, New Jersey and California. He said many business owners are attracted to his company because he has an abundance of insurance, which includes insuring the buildings in which his clients are housed.
“I think our success comes down to a lot of hard work and dedication,” said Venturino. “I also love talking to people; I have the gift of gab. … I love talking to the customers. I love making the customers feel like their car is in good hands.”
With the influx of new clients, Venturino said he was also happy to be able to employ workers to help run the business.
“I was happy to be able to employee people in our community, and give young kids a chance at hard work,” he said.
His favorite part of the business, Venturino said, is, “being hands on at each location, and seeing customers’ faces when they see our sign and knowing their car is in good hands.”
PREMIER VALET COAST TO COAST LLC AT A GLANCE
New Businesses in Focus is a weekly column that relates the stories of new Staten Island businesses owners.
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Tracey Porpora is the business writer and Sunday manager for SiLive.com/Staten Island Advance.
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