A STATEN ISLAND DESIGNER AND BUILDER OF CUSTOM OUTDOOR KITCHENS LOOKS TOWARD ITS BUSIEST SEASON
BY ERIK SCHONING • PHOTOS BY AMANDA DOMENECH
Outdoor cooking and entertaining is one of the hallmarks of summer living, offering a chance to celebrate the season with family, friends, and grill-fired food. When Staten Island entrepreneur Anthony Barbagallo launched Pro-Fit Outdoor Living three years ago, his mission was to offer customers a hassle-free fast track to good times in the open air.
Barbagallo co-owns Go Green Building Supply in Charleston, a building materials emporium and design center that offers high-end products for every corner of the home, including windows, doors, kitchens, flooring, decks, roofing, and more, plus innovative products like Invisacook, a “disappearing” induction cooktop that can be positioned directly under the kitchen counter. When Barbagallo added grills and standard outdoor kitchen kits to his catalog, he noticed a need for easy-to-assemble al fresco kitchens that could still be high-end and customizable. Masonry-built kitchens, while sturdy, require footings, which can make for an expensive and lengthy contracting process. On the other hand, standard ready-made kits lack adaptability and originality. Barbagallo’s concept was to take the best of both, fusing the luxury aesthetic of masonry kitchens with the ease and quick assembly of prefab work.
“We call our kitchens designer ready,” he said. “We use a fiber board that is fireproof, waterproof, insect-proof, and structural. With this board we can do any type of finish that can be nailed or screwed in.”
The versatility of Pro-Fit’s product has been a great advantage as Barbagallo expands his business. Everything is custom built at their shop, where cutouts are made for grills, pizza ovens, or any type of al fresco appliance. The kitchens are shipped flat-packed, and the materials are marked with color-coded corners and brackets for easy assembly, which takes approximately 15 minutes per island piece. The kitchen’s “skeleton” is then ready to finish with stucco, cultured stone, decking boards, or whatever suits the overall design of the project. Pro-Fit also offers a massive catalog of products, from centerpieces like grills, pizza ovens, fire pits, and beer tap refrigerators to accessories such as deep fryers, ice makers, built-in pull-out cutting boards, and more.
In retrospect, Barbagallo noted he launched Pro-Fit at the right time. After the onset of the pandemic, many people began to prioritize the outdoor spaces of their home. For several families in the borough and beyond, investing in outdoor living became their top home renovation project.
“Due to the pandemic, a lot of people have been putting more interest into their yards,” Barbagallo said. “Instead of being just a grilling station, outdoor kitchens became a social area. A lot of our designs feature a grilling area attached to an L-shaped bar. So now we have a social space where the person grilling can also be hanging out and entertaining.”
Barbagallo has also been staying on top of new tech, a prescient move for Pro-Fit that has kept the business on the cutting edge. Early this year, Pro-Fit launched a patented outdoor kitchen design software that gives homeowners the power to develop their own vision in a user-friendly web and app-based format. Backsplashes, bars, and pavers can be added, plus a lineup of appliances and products from major brands like Blaze, Coyote, and Lynx. When the design is complete, users can access specific model numbers for every product in the software. By giving clients the ability to digitally visualize everything in advance, Barbagallo and his team are able to ensure that when those designs become reality, there are no surprises.
The software might be wildly popular with customers and contractors, but Pro-Fit’s online claim to fame is its booming TikTok presence. Barbagallo recalled his kids giving him a hard time when he first pitched them the idea. “They said it was a kid’s app,” he laughed. “But I said it’s only going to be a matter of time until adults are on TikTok.”
With more than 35,000 followers, Pro-Fit uses its TikTok presence to offer engaging product demos, show off completed outdoor kitchens, and more. One of Barbagallo’s recent videos demonstrating theProFit Beverage Dispensing System an electronically controlled liquor system that works almost like a bartop soda fountain, dispensing spirits in shot glass quantities amassed 3.4 million views. Not bad for an adult on a kid’s app.
Contracting and home improvement are famously old-fashioned industries, often relying on lengthy processes that can be slow and expensive. By pairing high-grade materials with design flexibility, Pro-Fit gives its clients the ability to sidestep complications without sacrificing quality. By staying abreast of technology and the shifting sands of the internet, Barbagallo is able to introduce his products to a broader base of clients than ever before.
Today Pro-Fit has two showrooms in Staten Island, where Barbagallo and his team offer in-store consultations using their design software and display kitchens. Whether homeowners are coming to him directly or through a contractor, he sees his role as a streamliner and facilitator for everyone looking to upgrade their outdoor space.
“We’re actually helping homeowners and contractors in the industry,” Barbagallo said. “I’m not looking to be a competitor of other contractors doing kitchens. We’re actually building the kitchens for them.”
As summer heats up, Pro-Fit is entering its busiest time of year. And no matter how customers find him, whether local folks dropping into the showroom or a fan through TikTok, Barbagallo prides himself on making his clients’ outdoor living dreams a reality. As one of his social captions goes: “There’s nothing better than seeing that smile on your customer’s face.”