Carluccio’s, the Neil Wickers-led concept, has curtailed its move into the grab and go market with the closure of its first “quick-service version” format site Via Carluccio’s, MCA understands.
The first, and so far only, Via Carluccio’s made its debut in London in February in Tottenham Court Road and was described as “a quick-service variation of the brand, offering restaurant-quality food for people on the move”.
The company planned to target local workers, before a further three or four opened across the capital. It said that the average cost of developing the sites would about 40% of the cost of a fully-fledged Carluccio’s.
A spokesperson for Carluccio’s said: “Whilst customer feedback has been incredibly positive, we closed the Via Carluccio’s on Tottenham Court Road as space constraints made it difficult to deliver the volume of sales transactions to meet targets. In the short term, we have decided to focus on enhancing our grab and go concept within existing stores - we recently put this format into our new generation restaurant in Spitalfields and have had great success through integrating the concept within our in-store deli areas”.
From 7am Via Carluccio’s served breakfast dishes including borlotti bean pots topped with a poached egg, egg frittatine wrapped in pancetta, jumbo oats porridge with fig jam from Campania and warm panettone with chocolate hazelnut filling. It also served coffee, tea and soft drinks.
At lunchtime, diners were able to choose from a selection of salads, antipasti and sandwiches made with ciabatta and focaccia, or can pay £5 to £6 to fill a “mix-and-match” box with pasta, pizza and salad.
Wickers told The Times that Via Carluccio’s was a natural brand extension for the company, particularly as it had successfully tried out grab-and-go counters at two of its London restaurants, in Canary Wharf and Market Place in Marylebone.
Wickers said: “We are entering the growing grab-and-go market with one of the strongest casual dining brands. It will be differentiated by offering restaurant-quality food using Italian products to Antonio’s recipe.”
Talking to MCA in June on the potential for Via, Wickers said: “We are definitely looking for more sites. The consumer reaction so far has been fantastic so there is clearly a demand for it. I wouldn’t want to put a number on it but we see a lot of options in areas such as travel hubs.”