Following an established trend, Barilla continues to open restaurants, under direct management, which convey their brand and product values. The third restaurant of this project is in New York and just like the first two are located on the Sixth Avenue, the central artery of Manhattan. Precisely in Herald Square, very near the Empire State Building. The other two are near the Museum of modern arts (MoMA) and the historic Bryan Park. The concept is that of “fast casual”, very functional to the American way of life especially in big cities where lunch breaks are very short. The concept was developed in collaboration with Italian chef Alfonso Sanna who has international experience and coordinates the kitchens.
“With these restaurants – explains to Food Luca Uva, development manager of the Barilla restaurants – we try to convey a concept of quality and authentic Italian food that is not always apparent in the United States. We would like to bring proper consumption of pasta to the American consumer, without being too orthodox. And we cook ‘al dente’ and with smaller portions compared to those found in other places, but also give space to sauces loved by the American consumer, such as the famous ‘all’Alfredo’. However, we have taken action on this front: and have simplified and lightened the recipes, which are well suited to more healthy eating habits. In our restaurants you will find Parmesan cheese, but only real Parmigiano Regiano, to underline the real Italian products. Moreover, we do not only sell pasta but also pizza, sandwiches and salads, to have a complete and appropriate offer, in line with the demand from a shop like ours, where we serve an average of 600 meals a day for an average spending of $15.” Or a approximate daily turnover of 9 thousand dollars.
Where will the new restaurants open? “We are still looking to the United States, but not only. It is more correct to speak of the Americas, but we want to be present in all those cities for which we can serve the function of a hub. We won’t open a thousand stores, but we will certainly be looking at more than just a dozen.” Uva does not say anymore, but the feeling is that the next openings will be in countries where Barilla already has a good market share or potential. If this were the strategy guide for the openings, then Brazil could be next, and so perhaps could Mexico or Canada. Then Europe and then Asia.
There is an interesting fact that comes from the Department of Commerce of the United States. In 2015, for the first time since statistics exist, the expenditure of Americans in restaurants has exceeded that of the grocery store. The superstores Walmart and Target are excluded from the statistics, because they also sell non-food, but the flat trend in their sales leaves no hope for a better trend, given that online sales are growing at a much higher rate. According to the department, the restaurants’ luck is due to employment growth and wages that brings more people out to eat, and retailers will have to find new strategies to counter this new market structure. Walmart, which has seen its shares literally collapse on Wall Street, has admitted that growth is not as hoped and that in order to convince customers, the price leverage (greater discounts in other words) and on online sales will play an important role, but where competition is fierce is in online, starting from Amazon.