Carluccio’s CEO, Neil Wickers, has told FEJ that he is confident the chain has got the kitchen set-up for its new ‘Via’ concept just right to be a success in the UK food-to-go market.
The 115-strong casual dining group’s first ‘Via’ store on London’s Tottenham Court Road (pictured above during its fit-out) is now up and running, offering “restaurant quality food” for people on the move. It has just 18 covers inside and out for seating and serves a menu specially created by founder Antonio Carluccio.
Wickers said the Carluccio’s team has spent time getting the finer details of the kitchen design right, with the emphasis firmly on order turnaround times.
“Quickness of service is the key thing with Via, compared to a full-blown café and deli offering,” he said. “We’re essentially talking about a site that operates from around 1,000 square feet. In terms of the equipment, we can call on the experience that we have from our existing [regular] sites and we are using a variation of products from those. We know what the pitfalls of certain things are and we understand that the lay-out needs to be ergonomic.”
Carluccio’s is planning at least three or four more Via sites in the short term, but it isn’t making any bold statements about where and when they will be just yet.
For the time being the emphasis is on London, although Wickers is not ruling out sites outside of the capital. Location is important for any operator, but the Via business model is particularly geared towards finding sites with a high proximity to large numbers of time-strapped consumers.
“It is a concept that we think is geared towards worker-driven locations and travel hubs, and that is what we are looking to roll it out to,” revealed Wickers. “We are looking at a number of sites although we haven’t signed anything yet. Location is important and in London that can be a challenge.”
The full interview can be read in the March issue of Foodservice Equipment Journal here.