Ben Stratton received his start in the restaurant business at the age of 7 when his father would take him to work at the family owned Imo’s Pizza back in 1969. He was paid .50 cents and hour and according to Ben, really thought he was doing something.
Ben said, “we don’t often think about this, but just like a start-up today, Imo’s Pizza was a risky proposition in 1965 when my dad opened his first location. My dad was a carpenter and starting a business while working a full time day job required a lot of long hours, hard work and sheer determination.” Stratton also adds, “Imo’s Pizza was not an over night success, but I am glad my parents followed their dream of being in business for themselves, made the sacrifices it took and were not afraid to take the risk.”
After working at the Imo’s Pizza in Maplewood all through high school, Ben went to college and then took a year to work in a friends gourmet Italian restaurant in Southern California. When he returned to St. Louis, Stratton opened three Imo’s Pizza Parlors of his own and married his beautiful wife Kate.
In 2003 Ben opened Stratton’s Cafe in Webster Groves, Missouri. Stratton’s started as a very simple menu and has evolved into a rather large menu with literally something for everyone. Ben traveled to Baltimore and Las Vegas to learn how to make the latest addition to the Cafe menu and that’s Gelato.
Five years later, Stratton says, the number one question asked by his customers was, “when are you going to open another location?” The second location was opened on April 15, 2008 in Clayton, Missouri. After almost 6 years of serving the wonderful people of Clayton, on December 20, 2013, Stratton’s closed it’s doors. Ben Stratton doesn’t regret opening the Cafe in Clayton, but he does wish he would have done things a little differently. “Sometimes we learn more from those business ventures that didn’t make it than from the one that did,” says Stratton. Unfortunately, setbacks are part of the entrepreneurial process, but ironically the more you risk failure, and actually fail, the greater the chances that your future attempts will be successful. Those lessons and many others will be spoken of in the form of “tips” on Ben Stratton’s own web-site. If you’re interested in those “creative ideas” as Ben likes to call them, hop on over to benstratton.com and sign up for his free creative ideas.
The next chapter in Stratton’s Cafe’s history is still waiting to be written. They are launching a brand new web-site, coming out with new “healthier” menu options and simplifying the operation. To be sure, Ben Stratton is working hard behind the scenes to create the next new and exciting chapter of Stratton’s Cafe and we can’t wait.