After seeing success in Mexico, Italianni’s restaurant plans for a bigger footprint.
Finding Italian food outside of Italy is easy. Finding an authentic Italian restaurant that serves traditional recipes outside of Italy is near impossible.
Italianni’s restaurant is trying to change that.
Founded on original, old-world Italian family recipes at affordable prices in the 1990s, Italianni’s restaurant is changing the perception of authentic Italian food in unexpected locations. The majority of the 120 restaurant chain’s locations are in Mexico, and the organization also has locations in the Philippines, Guatemala and Texas.
While these locations seem a little out of the way for traditional Italian fare, worry not: Italianni’s restaurant tirelessly works to provide authentic Italian flavor in each and every meal.
“We travel to Italy every year and have the great opportunity to handpick recipes from generations-old Italian families,” shared Juan Carlos Cachoua, CEO of Italianni’s restaurant. “We learn the history of the dish, how it evolved within the family, and eventually how to create these dishes from the people who have been making them for decades.”
This is the core of Italianni’s restaurant as an organization.
“As recognition and tribute to all the families that have shared their traditional flavors and unique stories, many of our dishes have their last name,” the company shared. “Also as a thank you to their families, on our walls we put the photos they share with us of their special moments and loved ones.
“We hope that through each delicious dish, we can transport them even for a brief moment to this space in the heart of some Italian family.”
Italianni’s restaurant has definitely been successful in this regard. Consumers have recognized the organization with several different awards, including best shopping center restaurant and the most recommended restaurant chain in Mexico, as well as the best casual dining restaurants in the Philippines.
With locations in completely different regions culturally and geographically in the world, Italianni’s restaurant works hard to make sure each location fits its community.
“For example, every city has its own challenges in Mexico. In some places, the freestanding model of our restaurant is perceived better. In others, being part of a shopping center yielded better results. In Cancun, we have to appeal to tourists, so the restaurant needed to adapt. Being flexible—while still sticking to our authentic menu—is key to our success.”
So what’s next for a brand that already seems to dominate saturation in its home market? Expansion.
Italianni’s restaurant has recently entered into a development partnership with Fine Spices LLC, which is expected to yield a whopping 200 new restaurant locations over seven years. For those familiar with the casual dining market, however, you may think that now isn’t the best time to pursue such a large expansion. Cachoua understands your trepidation
“It’s important to understand the position the restaurant industry is in before making these kinds of decisions,” he shared. “Trying to launch a casual dining location in today’s market sounds challenging, and it is—the market is going through some hard times right now.”
One of the biggest challenges is that labor costs are increasing, and brands are having to figure out whether to cut costs elsewhere or raise prices. Compromises have to be made, and business models have to adapt.
But Italianni’s restaurant and Fine Spices are both optimistic about their future in the marketplace.
“We’re continuing to study the trend and the evolution of the segment,” Cachoua continued. “Our business model will adapt to the market. Fine Spices sees the work we’ve put in so far, and the group of investors has confidence in our team.
“We’re building a talented development team to find the best locations so that they are commercially viable almost from the start.”
Italianni’s restaurant is in the process of opening its first new unit since its partnership with Fine Spices earlier this year. JC Cachoua expects it to open in the next seven to eight months.
The U.S. is a potential goldmine for Italianni’s restaurant, and much of the development of the 200 additional locations could potentially end up in the U.S., specifically Texas and Florida.
“We have a well-rounded plan for the Florida market, that then could lead to expansion continuing up the East Coast of the U.S.,” Cachoua said.
Although the growth goes against what people expect of the casual dining market today, Cachoua isn’t worried. His confidence in the Italianni’s restaurant brand—and the obvious consumer love and support for its authentic Italian recipes and ambiance—lead me to believe that the company will find success in the U.S. market, and anywhere else it looks to expand.
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