Vapiano is focused on revamping its offer by streamlining its guest experience and maintaining a traditional restaurant service model across its estate, UK MD Craig Goslin tells MCA.

The Germany-based, Italian cuisine chain opened its sixth UK site and first since 2018 in Paddington in December 2022.

“Pre-pandemic, we had a guest journey that was our USP,” Goslin says. “To some extent, that journey had become a bit dated.

“Even pre-pandemic, we started thinking about how we could change that.”

In a move away from its counter service model, Vapiano switched to table service but kept key element of its proposition, such as the open kitchen and handmade, crafted-at-site pizza and pasta.

“Some guests enjoyed the theatre of an open kitchen, so we’ve kept that,” Goslin adds. “We’ve also retained the freshness of the product, but guests can now order seamlessly from table.

“We’ve taken a step forward into the future.”

Vapiano Craig Goslin1

The chain applied for insolvency in March 2020, following which it was acquired by a group of investors in partnership with Savour Group. Private investment firm McWin, led by Henry McGovern and also the backer of Gail’s Bakery and White Rabbit Projects, now holds a 51% stake in the UK business, while Savour Group holds 49%.

The business is eyeing Birmingham, Leeds, and other major cities for future expansion, but remains focused on nailing down the evolution of its proposition. The new Paddington restaurant – at 4,500 sq ft and 168 covers – is about half the size of Vapiano’s other venues.

“It’s a change from the traditional Vapiano design and much more cost effective with lower capex,” Goslin says. “It’s the first of a new model we’ll be following and makes the business a lot more sustainable going into the future.

“Six weeks in, Paddington is tracking slightly ahead of expectations despite opening during the rail strikes.”


Flagship city centre and high street sites, albeit with a smaller footprint, are still on the agenda, but the chain is also looking to build its presence in neighbourhoods.

“In terms of growth, we’re not in a massive hurry – it’s more about sustainable growth and the right timing. The mandate right now is to see what energy pricing brings going into the second half of the year, then revisit.”

Vapiano has not “ruled anything out” when it comes to formats and is looking into shopping centres as well as key travel hub sites such as Euston Station.

The Paddington venue is “getting a lot of attention” from franchisees around the globe, with recent openings in Barcelona, Bratislava, and Australia.

As the team redefines the look and feel of the brand, customers can expect new product innovation

“Paddington is a significant milestone in our growth journey,” Goslin adds.