Carluccio’s will become less Italian to keep itself afloat
In the wake of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant group collapsing, the U.K.’s casual dining chains have their guard up. Carluccio’s — which closed a third of its restaurants last year — is expanding the ‘Fresca’ refurbishment programme designed to keep the restaurant group alive: it was two weeks from folding at one point in 2018. That programme includes a more “refined” menu, tightening up service, and, most strikingly, a gentle but conspicuous swerve away from the fierce devotion to Italian cuisine that won it respect in the early years. Steak, non-Italian fish dishes, and French wines are all set to appear on the menu.
This is the dilemma of the casual dining chain in a nutshell: with independent restaurants serving higher quality, better value iterations of the dishes those chains once introduced at large, the only options are to go toe-to-toe, or to change things up. Going toe-to-toe hasn’t worked for anyone just yet, so it’s a bold but seemingly sensible move from Carluccio’s to compromise what made it so attractive in the name of keeping afloat. [Big Hospitality]
And in other news...
- Three of Jamie Oliver’s proteges at Fifteen, the TV chef’s flagship restaurant in east London discuss the importance of that project. [The Observer]
- HSBC bank is reportedly owed £37 million following the collapse of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant group. [Telegraph]
- ASDA comes late to the cheeseburger pizza trend with a limited edition number. [Metro]
- Home yoghurt makers are giving big dairy nightmares — a six percent drop in sales volume is being credited to those making at home. Non-dairy growth seems a more likely culprit. [Guardian]
- Pip MacDonald is now head chef at Peckham’s hottest bistro, Levan — she replaced Neil Borthwick at Merchant’s Tavern in Shoreditch after he went to revive the French House kitchen in Soho. [The Caterer]
- A Bristol bar wants visitors coming for its restaurant pop-ups to loosen their purse strings when it comes to drinks. Bristol Spirit co-founder Sam Espensen says those drinking tap water are seriously hurting profits. [Bristol Live]
- Good tweet: