In order to be successful, a business needs two things.

First, it needs a prime location, and it needs to know what its customers want.

A hotel in Niagara Falls seems to offer both of those things.

Frank Strangio, owner of the Quality Inn and Antonio’s Restaurant on Niagara Falls Boulevard, sat down with Greater Niagara Newspapers to talk about how his business is successful, thanks to a good location and a trolley.

QUESTION: How did you get started in the business?

ANSWER: My father started the business in 1992, when I started college. So it was kind of half going to school and half working in the business. I worked pretty much throughout college. I went to Price Waterhouse and I got the experience and came back. I came back here to work full time in 1999 and since then I’ve been working in the business. We started as a hotel in 1992, between 1992 and 1995 we went from 27 rooms to 70 rooms. We stayed that way until 2000- 2001 and we began planning to expand. We added 30 more hotel rooms and became a Quality Inn, and then the following year, we completed the banquet facility. It’s Antonio’s Restaurant Banquet and Conference Center. Since then we are building up the business. The new exciting thing was the restraint and banquet facility, because it was so much different form the hotel business. Things are going pretty well.


Q: How did your family get into the hotel business?

A: My father was in construction, a brick layer, so he knew how to build things. He had that sort of experience and he wanted to take his life in a different direction. Being a tourist town, a hotel seemed to be a natural fit. Of course he had the knowledge of building, so we could minimize our costs. It was a natural fit, we just ran the business. The restaurant was something that was lacking in the hotel. We felt it was a nice marriage between the hotel because we could possibly spur some hotel room sales. We could work the other way too, and it was just another service we could offer. In addition to that, we saw a hole in Niagara Falls in terms of banquet services.


Q: What kinds of events are held at Antonio’s?

A: In terms of numbers, we do a lot of small parties. The crux is weddings and major events. But then, in addition to that, we do several conferences and showers. Anytime people gather, for the most part when organizations have events. We’re really known for our weddings... so far. I would guess 300-400 events a year.


Q: Do you have any returning customers?

A: Oh yeah, United Way. Our best customers are Niagara University, St. Mary’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital, Niagara Catholic High School to name a few. A lot of charitable organizations have events here. One of the best events we do every year is the senior prom. HANCY gets local high school students and they partner them up with folks in retirement homes. They have a “Senior Prom.” The looks on the faces on the older people when they come here is just priceless. They have such a good time. It’s one of my favorite events. The firefighters always have their senior event here as well. They have a turkey dinner for Christmas. It’s a really nice event because it gets people out of the retirement facilities. And weddings are always great.


Q: What are some of the positive aspects of owning a business?

A: There’s flexibility, in terms of your schedule. Your able to plan things around your own schedule, as compared to having to work a 9 to 5 job. There’s a freedom of being able to be creative and do the things that you want to do because it is a family business.


Q: What are some of the negatives?

A: You have to put everything into it. Sometimes it takes a lot of your time, you really have to be dedicated to make it work. If your not careful you could become a slave to the business. It’s difficult to balance your whole life. It’s a reflection on yourself. When you’re doing the work it’s something that you’ve put everything into and you can be proud of it. That’s a positive.


Q: What’s a typical day for you like?

A: There is no typical, every day is a new day. It brings new challenges, because you never know what to expect. Everyone has different needs, and you’re trying to meet those needs. The main goal here is to provide people with excellent service. Whatever they need we try to cater to that.


Q: How does your location help business?

A: Location is a crucial part of business, but we feel we offer an alternative to tourists. We’re not that far from the falls, we now offer on a seasonal basis a free trolley to get down to the falls. That has been successful, tourists get free parking here. We’re close to shopping and restaurants which people like. We offer a different atmosphere to those who don’t want to be in the hustle and bustle. The trolley goes downtown, to the malls, and tourists can get on anytime. They can get a pass at the hotel they are staying at.

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