Ca’puccino conquers kitchen challenges in pursuit of growth

Capuccino kitchen

With a convenient take-away concept to tempt office diners and passing tourists, and a stylish restaurant complete with outdoor terrace, design-led chain Ca’puccino’s newest UK restaurant gave the company’s foodservice equipment buyers plenty to think about when planning the kitchen. FEJ reports.

As far as sites in London go, modern Italian coffee house and kitchen Ca’puccino’s policy is the more high profile, the better. The chain’s carefully-crafted location strategy has seen it open stores in Heathrow Terminal 2, the King’s Road, Basil Street in Kensington, Westfield London and Harrods, where incidentally it has just had its contract renewed for the third time, giving it a presence within the luxury department store for at least another four years.

So the move to open a sixth UK site on a busy junction of Tottenham Court Road — its first major street location — certainly doesn’t look out of place for a chain that oozes style and prides itself on a menu created in tune with contemporary trends in the Italian casual dining scene. And as with all its stores, the team in charge of designing and equipping the kitchen and servery area has had a monumental part to play in creating the glue that binds the front- and back-of-house operations together.

02Maurizio Raviolo

Maurizio Raviolo says Ca’puccino’s priority is to seek suppliers capable of providing equipment that can deliver exactly what is demanded by the menu.

Maurizio Raviolo, Ca’puccino’s asset manager, who has been with the firm since its maiden store opening in 2006, admits that as far as his role is concerned, there are two elements of every project he is judged on: completing it on time and within budget. “The time aspect is particularly important because usually when we start our work we have already begun paying the rent, so it is important for us to get everything finished in a short timeframe,” he tells FEJ.

Ca’puccino was originally founded in Italy — where it now has 11 sites — as a bar concept but it has evolved over time, and when it expanded to the UK it became clear that it needed to be more of a restaurant in addition to serving coffee and takeaway paninis.

As a result, the kitchen has come to accrue more significance with each venture it embarks on and Raviolo and his counterparts now always set themselves the goal of improving on the last job they did. Prior to any equipment being ordered, his team sits down with the executive chefs and key staff to determine the design, layout and flow of the kitchen, as well as establish the type of equipment required.

The Tottenham Court Road store is currently trading as an A1 site, but applications are in for an A3 licence, which it hopes to get before it implements its bi-annual menu change sometime in April. Either way, the kitchen has been created to accommodate any eventuality, says Mercedes Prioletta, project manager UK at Ca’puccino.

“We gave enough flexibility to the project to make sure that the kitchen is ready [if it gains an A3 licence],” she explains. “If you start a project with that in mind then you can include a few items in the initial set-up that will allow you do certain things in the future.”

With the lack of space it was a big challenge to deliver a proper kitchen that could deliver the menu we were supposed to”

With 65 seats inside and another 44 outside, the Tottenham Court Road site is geared up to serving more than 100 covers and is second only to its Heathrow site, which can accommodate 140 covers, in terms of size. Open from 7am till 8pm daily, with slightly shorter hours at weekends, Ca’puccino will provide breakfasts, a range of authentic Italian paninis, typical regional pasta dishes and salads, handcrafted desserts and freshly-made Italian gelato, along with its traditional Italian coffees, speciality teas and cold brew.

04

The lack of space in the Tottenham Court Road kitchen posed a design challenge.

The new kitchen features several items of equipment that Ca’puccino hasn’t specified before and which it is looking forward to assessing. This includes Britannia’s Refresh ventilation system, a self-contained apparatus that needs no direct ductwork connections to the atmosphere. Says Prioletta: “We selected the product for its functionality because it can deliver in a small space what we requested for the ventilation and for the licence we have and the restrictions imposed by the landlord.”

Other new kit it has embraced includes a commercial food warmer from Thermodyne, which offers it the ability to cook and hold a wide variety of food products, and a ventless, fully-enclosed automated deep frying system from Autofry. “Both of those deliver the products to our standards in a very small space and the chefs are very happy with them,” says Prioletta. “We had meetings with the manufacturers and undertook training and felt they were spot on for this site and our menu. If they prove successful in this location, we will look at other stores.”

03

Ca’puccini’s new site is its sixth in the UK.

As far as choosing suppliers goes, Ca’puccino firstly seeks to ensure that the equipment is capable of delivering exactly what is demanded by the menu, but beyond that it also pays considerable detail to ease of operation and support. “The manufacturer needs to be able to demonstrate the simplicity of the maintenance procedures and how user-friendly it is for staff,” says Raviolo. The rest of the Tottenham Court Road kitchen is built around some brands that Ca’puccino has a trusted relationship with. This includes La Cimbali, which provides it with 2 and 3 group traditional coffee machines, and Electrolux, which supplies the combi ovens, induction range, high speed Panini grill, refrigeration and warewashing.

Ca’puccino’s Italian business also works closely with both equipment brands, so it can call upon centralised agreements with the pair, although the orders and fulfilment are shifted internally when it buys product for the UK.

Did the Tottenham Court Road kitchen pose any significant challenges? “The lack of space,” answers Raviolo. “It was a big challenge to deliver a proper kitchen that could deliver the menu we wanted. But every project has its own challenges, so one project is not any easier or harder than the other. You just aim to make it work for everybody — for the staff and for the customers.”

Spec sheet

Foodservice equipment specified for Cappucino’s 110-cover bar and kitchen on Tottenham Court Road:

Autofry                Ventless automated fryer
Carpigiani            Ice cream machine
Ceado                   Juice Extractors
DSL                       Bespoke counters
Electrolux            Combi oven, induction range, Panini grills, refrigeration, dishwasher, ice maker
La Cimbali           Traditional coffee machines
Lincat                   Hot pie cabinet
Samsung              Microwave
Thermodyne       Commercial food warmer
Unifrigor             Bottle cooler

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