From a young age, Victor Vulaj has had one goal in mind.
Since he was 13, Vulaj has wanted to own a restaurant. His father owned and operated a restaurant for many years in Mahopac on Secor Lane where Vulaj began his career in the food and service industry as a dishwasher.
He would get off the bus from school every day and get straight to work. Slowly, he climbed the ranks. As he got older, he became sous chef and eventually manager of the entire eatery. By senior year of high school, his eyes were set on owning a restaurant one day and being his own boss.
Today he owns La Famiglia Felice in Mahopac, running the Italian restaurant for the past eight months.
When he saw this location along Route 6, he decided to move in and buy it from the former owner. He saw a great opportunity and so far the leap of faith has been good to him.
“It was a big goal,” he said. “It was something I always wanted and finally happened so I was very excited.”
Vulaj, a Mahopac High School graduate, said he presents classic Italian cuisine that patrons in the area can’t get anywhere else. The restaurant offers different chicken and pasta meals that can’t be ordered at other places. By offering signature dishes, Vulaj said customers come to his place knowing they’ll get one of a kind food.
Working for his father for several years laid the groundwork for the success he’s having now. He learned customer service is always the top priority. The old adage, “the customer is always right” rings true in the Vulaj family.
Vulaj also learned he needs to lead his staff from the front. Vulaj added if he shows how much he cares about the business, they’ll care, too. And he certainly does, considering he’s at the restaurant six days a week.
“I like to see all my customers, make sure I don’t miss any of them,” Vulaj said. “I try to make everybody happy.”
This is actually Vulaj’s second food business. He bought Mike and Joes Pizza down the street from his uncle last year. But in this case, La Famiglia Felice is something he started from scratch.
Vulaj knows it’s important for patrons to get great food and service because if one customer is happy, La Famiglia will get another ten customers, but if one patron is unhappy, the eatery can lose 50 customers.
He wants to be on a first name basis with all of his customers and he wants to know exactly what they like. He wants to become friends with them.
“What’s their favorite drink, what’s their favorite meal,” Vulaj said. “That way the moment they walk in, I know exactly what they’re drinking.”
La Famiglia Felice is located at 944 Route 6 in Mahopac and its phone number is 845-803-8193.