Studying Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería in Cali, Colombia

Studying Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería in Cali, Colombia

Ventolini Restaurant Colombia story usf gellert family business center


Malia Aiello, Emma Erickson, Alexandra Hamilton and Maria Paula Zea

Business Highlighted

Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería
Cra.8 # 31-42, Cali 042 Colombia

Research conducted in

Spring 2020

Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería:

Innovating Delicious Products Amongst Various World Markets

Why Our Group Chose Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería

The Family Business Academic Global Immersion to Colombia was filled with numerous opportunities to meet with family businesses in Cali and learn from their company’s founding stories. Before beginning this case study, the team was given a multitude of businesses for which research would be conducted and developed into a case study. What drew our team to want to present on Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería is the company’s passion for their business, genuine care for their people, and successfully formulated business models that have led to Ventolini’s continuous growth and development as a whole.

A History of Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería

Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería originated as an ice cream parlor that was founded around 1963. Upon its founding, Giancarlo Ventolini, an Italian immigrant, came up with the company’s first slogan, “Ventolini, with Colombian fruits and Italian technique” (Nuestra Historia, 2018). In 1989, Ventolini made the decision to sell the company because of his desire to return to his home country. A Vallecaucana family, despite having no direct experience with the business, acquired the ice cream parlor. The new owner expressed, “We fell in love with the ice cream parlor”. This acquisition marked the first non-family owners of Ventolini in the history of the company’s existence. Ventolini’s new owner, Diego Sardi, began his involvement in the bakery sector when his wife, Isabella Vernanza, was pregnant. The story goes that Isabella and her sister were pregnant simultaneously and were both craving something sweet. With previous business experience, the family thought it would be better to invest in an ice cream shop, rather than simply buying a pint of ice cream and funding someone else’s venture. After convincing their husbands that it was a viable idea, the sisters had decided they wanted to own an ice cream shop and set off on their business venture.

After acquisition, the first step that Sardi took was incorporating Doña Ramona’s brand of cakes and pastries into the company’s product line (Nuestra Historia, 2018). This diversified the products Ventolini had, meaning they could offer their customers a wider range of selection. The newly improved product line led to the creation of the first Ventolini Café, which opened in front of Gato de Tejada in Valle del Cauca, Cali, Colombia. This initial location served as a gastronomic reference point, as the menu offered here also included sandwiches, ice cream cups, and hot drinks. Due to their diverse product line and swift adaptation to market demands, Ventolini’s product line grew richer. Additions to the company’s offerings included main dishes such as cakes, lasagna, pasta, and salads. The company also added spaces with children’s games and comfortable seating arrangements. The goal of Ventolini was to better serve all customers and become a meeting spot for the whole family that everyone can enjoy. Diego Sardi stated, “We want to change people’s lives, we don’t care about the money”.

About Ventolini Today

Today, Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería continues to thrive in the baked goods and restaurant industry. The company has expanded to 25 locations in Colombia. Since its acquisition, Ventolini has initiated their presence into other markets and continues to expand its opportunities. They continue to diversify their product offerings and adapt to market demands. Ventolini has expanded their customer reach by introducing home delivery via on-demand food delivery applications such as Rappi. The company has also integrated their products into the retail grocery space. Ventolini’s ice cream and cakes can be found in the frozen dessert aisle of many common Colombian markets, allowing customers the opportunity to enjoy the quality and freshness of their products in the comfort of their home, or wherever they may be. This also increases the competitive advantage of Ventolini compared to similar companies across the restaurant and ice cream sectors.

The Ventolini Formula

Since its start, Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería has thrived in the market, not only due to their wide variety of delicious products, but because of their unique business practices and perspectives on business functionality. Ventolini has a series of “formulas” that the company has utilized to succeed and come out ahead in the market. Each formula contains a simplified version of what the company has designed, tested and currently uses in the company. They include insight on the following; Delivery, Point of Sale, Family, Management, and the company’s main “Formula.” When making business decisions or integrating new systems into the company, Ventolini utilizes these formulas to remember the foundations of their business and what is important. Our team learned about and visualized these “formulas” in the office of the owner and manager of Ventolini.

Delivery Concept:

ventolini delivery concept 1

Delivery concept = Operator or application + Procedure + Product (packing and packaging) + Time + Satisfactory delivery + communication = Positive memorable experiences

Point of Sale Concept

ventolini point of sale concept

Point of sale concept = Point of sale + Human group + Procedure + product + communication = Positive memorable experiences

In order to provide a positive, memorable experience, each step needs to be seen through. The goal is that following these steps will result in a sale and the customer to become loyal to the Ventolini brand.

Family Concept

ventolini family concept2

Family concept = Grandparents + parents + university students + teenager + child + other

Management process = Take figures + Analyze Figures (Use brain) + Define what to do + execute

The Formula

ventolini the formula

The formula = Clients + visits + disbursement

Regarding the managerial process and the “formula”, the focus is mainly on how Ventolini should work with other companies. When drawing figures and analyzing them, one must decide what to do and how to do it to continue constant growth within the company. On the other hand, in the “formula” Ventolini focuses on the fact that if a satisfied customer shares his experiences, they will bring in other new customers, thus generating a disbursement of money for Ventolini.

Ventolini’s Cali Factory

During our tour of Ventolini’s production area, we were able to view the production process of the ice cream and cake products from beginning to end. At this location, thousands of cakes are baked from scratch, decorated by hand, and then sent off to be packaged and processed daily. Tons of ice cream is created to then be packaged and sent all around Colombia. Being able to view Ventolini’s main production area gave us the opportunity to pinpoint potential areas of improvement and also look into options to increase time productivity.

ventolini cali factory

After viewing the production line, we were able to witness the health and safety measures in place. All employees maintained sanitary standards by wearing hairnets, face masks, gloves, sanitary scrubs, and only used cleaned decorating materials and machinery. Commenting on the importance of sanitary measures for both the company and the employees, Diego Sardi stated, “We really care about the people we work with.” Should there be an accident or food contamination issue, specific practices are in place to control negative impacts to the company and the well-being of their employees.

ventolini cali factory2

ventolini cali factory3

Ventolini’s Strategic Positioning

Ventolini maintains a strong presence and positioning within both the baked goods and restaurant industries. While studying the needs of the market over the years, Ventolini’s menu grew richer (Nuestra Historia, 2018). The company doesn’t follow an organizational structure, but instead, the company revolves around the client. Diego Sardi revealed, “The secret ingredient is love.” The diverse product offerings of the company allow them to appeal to a variety of customers. Ventolini’s high standard of ingredients results in high quality, fresh and tasty goods that are also representative of both Colombian and Italian cultures. Continuing in this way, the brand multiplied its presence in Cali and expanded throughout Colombia via 25 locations. Another vital part of its strategic positioning is the company’s passion for their people.  Diego Sardi continues to lead Ventolini by enforcing the importance of the people that make up the muscle of the brand. Customers, employees, and every person involved in or within the business is treated fairly and with great care. Ventolini has become a large family of collaborators that today has more than 360 people linked, who day by day are influenced by the company, including family groups grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren. This sense of belonging and community that people feel with Ventolini is so sweetly reflected in its points of sale (Nuestra Historia, 2018) and has greatly contributed to the success of Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería.

Systems Theory

The Systems Theory in regard to Family Business is modeled with three overlapping, interacting and interdependent subsystems; family, business management, and the ownership. Each subsystem is important and serves as a valuable supporting partner to the family business. The first subsystem is family, and in application to Ventolini, the company has been a family owned business since its acquisition, as such employment is secured at birth. It is the right of any family member to be employed at Ventolini and be a part of the business. As a family business they focus on their 3 family values: unity, respect, and the value of people. Having these values as well as sound business principles is unique to Ventolini because they have integrated their family values into that of the company, while maintaining healthy relationships both in and out of the workplace.

The second subsystem is the business and management branch of Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería. Members of the family typically stick to their roles, allowing management to make decisions and have final say in regard to business practices. Though it is a family-run company, non-family members are still treated as members of the family. Rather than wasting time on familial disputes, the main goal of Ventolini is changing people’s lives. Even though they are a business, the company views profitability, revenue and growth as secondary goals to changing people’s lives.

The final subsystem is the ownership. The say of each shareholder and the amount of company equity owned does differ, varying amongst each member. This means that depending on your involvement in the company, the amount of say you have in company decisions or product line expansion varies. This portion of their ownership structure also results in the value optimization of active members versus that of distant shareholders, meaning that active members are able to express their leadership more regularly. Ventolini has been very successful as a family owned business because they abide by their rule of keeping work at work, and not speaking of the business at home. At the end of the day, Diego and his team are a family first and place a lot of value in this. The family business is not abandoned in favor of recapturing business value, meaning that they favor each other as family members first and business partners second, but differentiate themselves in comparison to other family businesses because they are able to draw this line efficiently and effectively.

Emerging Industry Trends and Recommended Response

Within the baked goods and tourism industries, there are varying emerging trends for 2020. First, the Global Tourism Industry is ranked number ten for the biggest industry in Revenue for 2020 at $1,703,3B (IBISWorld). Many countries have been experiencing robust growth per capita income over the past few years, greatly increasing the value of the industry as a whole in South America (IBISWorld). In order for Ventolini to keep pace with the growing industry, they need to create new product lines that ship across different countries, allowing their target markets to expand and appeal to a broader audience. We recommend that Ventolini continues to cater towards tourists in their restaurants located in tourism-centric areas, ensuring their product line offering is in demand and well-liked by tourist-specific clientele. Because of the vastness of the tourism industry, catering towards tourists will greatly increase Ventolini’s reputation and revenue. To further their brand recognition, we recommend that Ventolini continues to keep pushing signature products, such as their ice cream cake and ice cream pints, which allows customers to recognize the Ventolini brand regardless of the location they visit. Given the success of Ventolini’s current product line, customers will be more likely to become loyal and purchase Ventolini products again, because of their sought-after products that many people go out of their way to find.

The Bakery Goods Manufacturing Industry is ranked number ten for the fastest growing industry by revenue growth at 4.5% as of 2020 (IBISWorld). In mature markets, such as that of North America, Europe and South America, demand for bakery products is increasing vastly (IBISWorld). With this in mind, making a deliberate effort to increase their presence within this market with new products in addition to their current product line would be of great benefit. With a rise in global disposable income, more customers will be looking to spend frivolous money (IBISWorld) and Ventolini can capitalize on this by continuing the production of their successful products. As Ventolini offers recognizable foods with a twist, now is the time to start pushing their products even harder, to account for the rise in demand for non-essential purchases. The company has already started to do so with the introduction of their new frozen cake line that consumers can purchase at their local grocery store. This product increases the accessibility of the Ventolini brand. In addition to this new product, the company should continue their current product line and its current catering business to a plethora of restaurants.

Innovating and Coping with Economic Issues Within Colombia and the World’s Economies

There are a variety of economic issues in regard to the global economy, but also within Colombia specifically. Ventolini is a capital socialist company, meaning they create wealth and distribute the wealth, a more common practice in Colombia. With this in mind, a promising endeavor for Ventolini would be internationalization. For instance, solely focusing on ice cream would limit the company’s ability to grow their target markets and expand beyond a single restaurant or shop. While focusing on other products and expanding to new locations, Ventolini can grow in size and revenue, keeping up with the competition. Innovation is a very important factor for Ventolini to pursue when faced with the economic difficulties found within Colombia. It is key to keep the company fresh, evolving and new, to pull in multiple new market segments while maintaining the traditional products to please the mature customer base as well. Right from the beginning Ventolini was an innovative concept, combining Italian and Colombian cuisine. This twist on traditional foods keeps them exciting and a strong competitor in the industry. This diversity in cultures allows their product line to be filled with exotic flavors that appeal to consumers without losing the essence of the founder’s idea and staying true to one of their most renowned quotes, “We always go back to the places where he was happy”. Using promotions is another way to evolve and adapt to a variety of audiences. Ventolini creates promotions that are suitable for a variety of sectors, allowing mass exposure of the brand which leads to the loyalty of their customer base. A prime example is the point of sale that is located within the Javeriana University of Cali. Every weekday, Monday to Friday, this store location has promotions that are adapted to the needs, income and demands of the students. Ventolini is a strong business that will be able to keep up with the competition as long as they continue down their path of innovation and remain flexible to new ideas along the way.

Central Challenges

Brand recognition amongst various countries is a challenge that involves three components; lack of content visibility, inability to reach the target audience, and low engagement with digital advertising. Lack of content visibility could lead to a potential downfall for the company as the competition for online attention is more intense than ever. Page shares and online social interactions need to also target an appropriate audience. When brand awareness comes from the wrong people, you risk wasting marketing resources on an audience that is not likely to purchase your product. Building brand awareness requires effectively strategized digital ads. There is a lot of digital advertising noise competing for buyer attention (Quijano 2019).

Challenges specific to Colombia include trading across borders, paying taxes, and cultural barriers. The cost of trading across borders is much higher in Colombia than in most Latin American countries. Tax payments are an extremely complex affair and can take up to 240 hours of business time a year. Communication in Colombia is very subtle and direct, which can cause problems when it comes to business negotiations with other cultures (Solving 3 Brand Awareness Challenges with Intent Data, 2019).

Global Challenges

By entering the global market, Ventolini has unique challenges to overcome. First of all, as the company is within a particular niche of the food market, it will need to establish heavy brand recognition in other countries. This can initially involve a heavy cost concerning marketing and product placement. Also, production costs and possible tariffs, as well as market research expenses need to be factored into any expansion budget outside of the current locale. However, these challenges are not something that will necessarily deter Ventolini from expanding on a global level. It will be important for proper research and review to be conducted to determine if global expansion is a viable and profitable path for the company in the future.


Although there are many unique challenges within an expansion plan, there are also opportunities that can outweigh these challenges. For example, providing a unique product line can launch success within a saturated food market. The ability to provide a new and exciting (i.e. Italian and Colombian fusion) product to consumers can outweigh any logistical challenges the company may face initially during the expansion phase. Another opportunity that can present itself within a market expansion is the price point of the product. If there is a similar item within the market, Ventolini has the ability to research to see if a reduction in its product price would be profitable and equitable to its expansion in a new market. Furthermore, possible partnerships with brick and mortar storefronts that provide a unique customer experience could bring Ventolini to an expanded consumer base. Finally, after research, there is the ability to see if expansion opportunities would be better suited in a direct city center or a suburban area based upon demographic data. A strategically planned expansion into new countries could also be beneficial to the brand.

Ventolini Family Genogram

ventolini family genogram

The family genogram originates at the initial acquisition of Ventolini by Diego Sardi. Diego Sardi is the majority owner and company manager, and his wife Isabella Vernaza is in charge of the company’s research and development. The result of this happy marriage is their two daughters, Alejandra Sardi, Plant Manager, and Natalia Sardi, Head of Plant Shipping and Delivery. In relation to the specific roles of this genogram, Diego Sardi states, “Do not cross roles in the family.” The family maintains a healthy relationship amongst one another. Overall, this family has a magnificent relationship. The emotional levels from the relationships shown are good and harmonious. Diego Sardi also stated, “We make it work because nothing is personal. It’s just business”.


In review of Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería as a company, we have concluded that the company has continued to thrive from its first year and is a successful family business. Ventolini is a model business for other family businesses as well as other high profit generating companies. Their ability to divide “family” issues from the business functionality is integral in its efficiency and success. The current business formula and strategic positioning with the market makes them a unique commodity that meets the demands of the consumer. The company continues to adjust to market trends and adjusts to the innovations within the baking industry. This allows the company to remain competitive in the niche it currently maintains. Ventolini can expand its current brand into other areas while still maintaining its core business model. This will allow not only location expansion, but possibly expansion into other market areas worldwide. The challenges that Ventolini faces with regards to market viability can be tackled to maintain the business within the family framework. This allows the company to retain its core values as a family business while looking to the future.

Special Thanks to

Diego Sardi, Owner and President, Ventolini S.A.
Isabella Vernaza, Investigation and Development, Ventolini S.A.
Monika Hudson, Full-Time Faculty, University of San Francisco School of Management
Fernando Pereira, Professor, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Family Business Academic Global Immersion in Cali, University of San Francisco

Works Cited

DeVingo, Paige. “Solving 3 Brand Awareness Challenges with Intent Data.” Aberdeen, 28 Aug. 2019

“Industry Market Research, Reports, and Statistics.” IBISWorld, Global Biggest Industries by Revenue in 2020

“Industry Market Research, Reports, and Statistics.” IBISWorld, Global Tourism Industry – Market Research Report

“Industry Market Research, Reports, and Statistics.” IBISWorld, Global Fastest Growing Industries by Revenue Growth in 2020

“The Latest Trends in Baking Highlighted at Europain 2020.” Bake Magazine RSS,

Quijano, Daniela Diaz. “Top 10 Challenges of Doing Business in Colombia.” TMF Group, 8 Oct. 2019,

Ventolini Restaurante Pastelería Heladería. “Nuestra Historia.” Facebook, 19 Dec. 2018

Course Details

Family Business Academic Global Immersion in Cali
Professor Hudson

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