Paolo's Restaurant & Bar

January 7, 2019
Family-owned restaurant provides friendly service and fresh food.
Paolo’s Restaurant & Bar has been a staple in Berks County for 40 years. Currently owned and operated by the Skaf family, their goal is to provide authentic, homemade, American & Italian food with exceptional customer service. Nick Skaf and his son Zach sat down and talked to Heady Times about how they keep this restaurant a local favorite.
Heady Times (HT): Can you tell us about the history of Paolo’s?
Zach Skaf (ZS): The restaurant opened in 1979, but we didn’t get involved until 2000, when my parents bought it. From the name to the recipes, we initially kept everything the same. We’ve been tweaking things over the years as our business has developed. Each year we usually have a small remodeling project in the works.
HT: It looks like you recently completed a pretty big project. Tell us about that.
ZS: While giving the exterior of the building a facelift this year, we decided to also renovate our outdoor bar, so now it’s a “four seasons” room. All the windows open, so when the weather is nice, it feels like you’re outside. In the winter, with the windows sealed, the space can still be used. We’ve been hosting a lot of events – birthday parties, class reunions… you can experience a lot here.
HT: How would you describe your menu?
ZS: The menu is more American-Italian than it is Italian-American. It’s very diverse, but it’s definitely geared toward pizza and wings (all-you-can-eat caters to a lot of sporting events). We sell a lot of pizza and our chicken parmesan is very popular, which is offered as both an entrée and a sandwich.
Nick Skaf (NS): Our menu also went from being about 50% homemade to 90%. You can’t beat the quality of our food.
HT: What sells well here in terms of beer? 
ZS: We cater to everyone, but for the most part, our beer sales are very domestic-driven. We sell a lot of craft products, but nowhere near the amount of Miller or Coors. Traditional IPAs are the most popular craft and local stuff seems to do well. I’m now noticing the rotating seasonals are popular too.
HT: How do you find out about new beers?
ZS: I do a little bit of social media research. I look online at sites like Beer Advocate. I have a close group of friends that are very knowledgeable and helpful. Our Origlio sales rep Dave is pretty awesome with the craft field, he gives us all the insights from people who drink the products.
HT: What’s the secret to the success of Paolo’s?
NS: Good food. Good atmosphere. Good service. Cleanliness.
ZS: Cleanliness is key. I also think people can relate to this being a family-owned business. I go from making pizzas to taking out the trash. My sister goes from training servers to serving. We’re always here, so our customers are used to seeing a familiar face when they come in.
NS: I have five children and they all work here. They’re very hands-on and have really made the business bloom. • 2480 Lancaster Pike, Reading • 610-775-3500 
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