To be successful in the restaurant business requires a high level of commitment. It helps when you have your priorities clearly determined. Franco Cupini is a man who is dedicated to friends, family, and food. His love for the restaurant business shines through when you see him working at his Westport eatery, Cupini’s. Franco was born in Rome, Italy where he developed his love for marinara sauce. After a successful career working for the president of Italy, he migrated to the United States. That move would eventually lead him to Kansas City and allow him to share his passion with all of us.
We want to thank Franco Cupini for hosting our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Franco, and his son Eddie, opened Cupini’s at 1809 Westport Road, in 2003. Their business model was basic, which makes it easy to repeat day after day. To them, Italian cuisine is all about freshness. To accomplish this, they make all of their pasta in-house daily. When a customer comes in to dine, it is these fresh ingredients that make each dish amazing. Their pasta has become so popular that they even sell it by the pound for customers to use at home. Cupini’s runs efficiently by having customers place their order at the counter, before finding a seat in the dining areas. By waving the standard table service routine, they are able to get started on dishes quicker and diners don’t have a long wait for their meals.
A Familiar Face
As we waited our turn to order, we looked around at the decor. Franco has assembled quite a collection of photos that show how important friends and family are to this business. We noticed the familiar face of Guy Fieri in a few of the photos. We have visited quite a few restaurants that have been featured by this Food Network star. In fact, we have even been bumped, if only temporarily, by Guy. This occurred during a visit to The Root Cafe in Little Rock, Arkansas. We did not look at this as being slighted, but more as we had made an excellent choice in dining destinations.
While preparing to order, we realized that Cupini’s has a bounty of Italian cuisine choices. Matthew, who was leading the staff when we arrived, came out to offer some assistance. We discussed the variety of options and decided to sample from a few categories. Most of the main meals are served with side salads, so that covered our appetizer. We had seen photos of Cupini’s pizzas on social media, so we had to add a small one to our order. This was a wise choice and we both savored the delicious crust and rich toppings of our Margherita Pizza.
Variety is the Spice of Life
After placing our order, we found a table near the front windows. This allowed a view of traffic along Westport Road. With the tables being spaced for appropriate social distancing, the dining area felt spacious. In a flash our dishes began arriving. As they were piled on the table we began wondering what we were thinking. Matthew reassured us that they had plenty of to-go- boxes available. Now we sat there facing not only the pizza and salads but two pasta dishes.
Plenty of Pasta at Cupini’s
Crystal and I are fortunate to share a sense of adventure, although mine is a little more robust. When it comes to dining, we enjoy sharing our experiences and discussing the merits of each dish. Franco had dropped by our table to see how we were doing but quickly excused himself so that we could focus on our meals. To get a better feel for the menu at Cupini’s, we had added a plate of Chicken & Prosciutto Tortellini. The flavor was amazing and the freshness was quite apparent. We also included an order of Chicken Spiedini, which blends the flavors of chicken, ham, tomato, onion, and Mozzarella cheese. After taking plenty of photos of our tablescape, it was time to dig into our mountain of food.
Once our dinner had been consumed, or at least all that we could finish. It was time for me to meet up with Franco Cupini. He led me through the restaurant space to a banquet-style hall that was housed in an adjacent building. We sat for a few minutes and discussed his business philosophy. As he told me his story, the passion he has for this business became apparent. All of the moves he has made throughout his life have led him on a path to this moment. With the continued success of the restaurant, he sees that it is opening new opportunities for the future. Many of these will be offshoot enterprises that will complement the core restaurant business. It is nice to know that there are business people who are still bullish about the future.
As we were wrapping up, Franco wanted to show me how they prepare their picturesque desserts. I watched with wonder as one of the staff topped cake after cake. Clearly he had this down to an art. Now it was time for Crystal and me to sample some of the artwork. Franco led me to the front counter and walked through the large variety of sweet desserts, which they offer up daily. The choices were overwhelming, so he eventually asked Matthew to assemble a selection for us to sample. The next thing we knew, our table was decorated with four slices of artistically designed desserts. With flavors like Passion Fruit Mousse, Zuccotto, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Mousse, it was difficult to select our favorite.
This is one of those visits that we were glad we took a selfie, before eating. I’m sure there was probably a little marinara sauce and maybe a smear of chocolate on my chin. We were completely impressed with the freshness of the dishes at Cupini’s. When you add on the quick turn time to get orders out to customers, it makes for a complete win-win. While Italian cuisine is not one we eat on a regular basis, this may change now that we found a restaurant that is filled with friends, family, and fantastic food. Have you ever sampled the fresh pasta at Cupini’s? We’d love to hear your experiences, so drop us a note in the comments section below. Ciao!