Alumni Profile: Misty Spano '95

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Medaille Alum Summer Gemmati Handzlik
August 18, 2011 - 3:17pm

As any fan of wings and weck will tell you, restaurants in Buffalo are among the best in the country. But when Misty Spano ’95 BA argues that point, it comes with a hint of bias. Since 1985, she has owned and operated Washington Square Restaurant, a thriving establishment located just a baseball’s throw away from the Buffalo Bisons Coca-Cola Field.

"My family has owned Washington Square Restaurant for 42 years," Spano said. "My career [there] began in 1976 when I started working in the kitchen for my dad. I took ownership in 1985, when my dad was ready to semi-retire." Spano graduated from Medaille with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and has incorporated her education and knowledge into running the restaurant.

"While much of my experience has been learned on the job, it doesn’t hurt having a formal business and management education," she explained. "My education gives me confidence and a good understanding of how to manage a business." Employees are one of the restaurant’s great assets. "Several of our employees have worked [here] for many years, and they care a great deal about the restaurant’s success and pleasing customers," said Spano. The restaurant’s "warm and comfortable atmosphere" draws a regular crowd. Spano noted, "My lunch customers usually eat [here] daily or at least a couple of times a week."

In lieu of formal advertising, Spano commented, "Word of mouth has been our best form of advertisement. We have customers from Erie, Pa. to Toronto who come in and say that our restaurant was recommended by their friends, and we have a great location that draws people in from downtown events or during their lunch break."

Success is not without its challenges. "Food and operation costs continue to rise, and it is challenging to keep our prices low and still make a profit," explained Spano. She is always seeking new ideas, drawing from visits to other restaurants, customers, and television cooking shows. "We know a new item is a hit when customers ask, ‘When are you going to have that again?’" 

This content originally appeared in the summer 2011 issue of the Medaille Magazine.

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The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.

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