At first glance, mixing Turkish Mediterranean and Italian cuisine on the same menu might seem odd, but for customers at Fresco Cafe & Pizzeria (7625 Maple St., 862-6363), it is a happy -- and delicious -- union.
"The food is a little Italian, a little Mediterranean, with similar ingredients you would put on a pizza," says Fresco owner Deniz Eroglu, who operates the restaurant with his wife, Mujen. "It's all homemade; everything is fresh. We even bake the bread every morning."
"That's why we named it Fresco," Mujen says. "Fresco means fresh, and everything is fresh."
Deniz Eroglu says he endeavors to keep the atmosphere light, casual and familiar for his customers. The walls are a golden yellow, the ambience is sunny and the décor includes posters that are fun and varied, including a framed 1938 sheriff's office mug shot of Frank Sinatra, a Beatles poster and familiar New Orleans favorites such as Louis Armstrong and a Tipitina's promotion. He says his intent is to make Fresco an inviting hangout where people will enjoy a meal and linger.
"We're trying to create a happy place, a place for good food and good times," Eroglu says. "We want it to be young at heart. As far as what I envision, I see Starbucks (nearby) and how it's trying to create an experience of comfort and a place to meet. That's why it's Fresco Cafe. I see people coming in and spending hours in the back or on the deck." The open-air deck at the front of the restaurant has a number of dining tables and chairs as well as a couple of higher tables for standing and visiting.
In addition to gourmet pizzas and a host of innovative sandwiches, Fresco serves Mediterranean favorites such as hummus and baba ghanoush with pita bread, as well as lamb and eggplant dishes. It also offers a range of pasta choices, wraps and salads.
The one item the restaurant serves that is not made in house is the dessert, Dolce Vita, a scoop of caramel ice cream with a luscious shell and a pocket of caramel inside all sitting on a chocolate cookie base. It's made by the Quintin's Ice Cream on Toledano Street.
Eroglu's formula is one that works well for the restaurant. "There are customers who come here three and four times a week," says Eroglu, who opened the restaurant in November 2002. "This is our first summer. (Until now), most of our customers were students, and we lost about 30 percent of our daily business (when college students went home for the summer). As we're becoming more established, we hope to have more of a community customer base, and we now have a lot of business people coming in for lunch."
Business Made Easy
Making life easier for businesses, brides and others is the main goal of BGD Entertainment Marketing & Fashion Agency (201 St. Charles Ave., 254-3653), whether the need is makeup application or a full-blown marketing campaign.
BGD, founded by CEO Brandy Gomez-Duplessis, focuses on putting together events such as fashion photo shoots or fashion shows, weddings, and product or event marketing promotions. The multi-faceted business also puts together graphics for business flyers, business cards and other marketing materials and is gearing up to design Web sites for its business customers. In addition, BGD has "street promotional teams" to hand out marketing materials or samples.
"We try to include everything that anyone could possibly need to put an event together," says Anicio Michaels, BGD marketing and public relations coordinator. "The biggest part of our business is the entertainment marketing for movie companies, record companies and other companies. It's a fun business."
BGD also supplies hair, makeup, and nail specialists to help with party preparations as well as models who need quality photographs for portfolios they show to prospective employers. Those services, as well as massages and event planning, also are available for wedding parties. For nuptials, the makeup artist stays at hand before, during and after the ceremony as well as during photography sessions to provide touchups.
For the marketing events, BGD contracts with local businesses wherever possible, including caterers, massage therapists, makeup artists and others. "We contract other small businesses when we can," Michaels says. "We have independent contractors that we hire per event. We like to spread around the business to local companies."
BGD can take a campaign from beginning stages, advertising concept, event planning and on-the-street promotions or simply plan a single promotional event, depending on the needs of the customer.
"What we're looking to do is be the one company that a business could come to," Michaels says. "If they need a campaign, we would come up with it. If they need someone to market the campaign, we could do that. We want to really do everything and make it convenient for companies."
- Mujen (left) and Deniz Eroglu opened Fresco Cafe & Pizzeria last year, bringing together Italian and Mediterranean tastes.