Surla’s To Expand
POSTED: 5:10 am PDT July 27, 2011
UPDATED: 6:06 am PDT July 27, 2011
MODESTO, Calif. — If building a successful business is about making relationships, restaurant owner John Surla always had the key ingredient.”First of all, you have to have a good personality,” Surla told KCRA-3.When Surla opened Surla’s in downtown Modesto a year and a half ago, most of his customers were eager to dine there because they remembered him as executive chef of Galletto, the restaurant owned by the family behind Gallo wines. The built-in clientele helped Surla and his staff –- many of whom followed him from Galletto –- at a time when most other restaurants were closing.Surla, who often greets every customer who walks in the door, has more than personality. He has experience. He worked for years in nearly every position available in restaurant kitchens in the Bay Area and Southern California before the Gallo family asked him to be executive chef at Galletto, he said.He is planning on opening a wine bar in downtown Modesto this fall and said his business relationships have helped his success, too. When customers order a chicken salad from Surla’s menu, they get a 14-day pass to Brenda Athletic Clubs, whose name appears on the menu. He also mentions the growers of his produce on the menu.”I donate a lot of my time to a lot of the non-profit organizations with a lot of affluent people that dine in my restaurant so they see that I’m out there and I’m giving back,” Surla said. “So, they try to return it and dine in the restaurant.”The signature dish on Surla’s Asian fusion menu is lumpia, a Filipino egg roll. Other popular items include bruschetta and tuna poke.