Secrets to Restaurant Success with Kristjan Longar of Urban Italian Group

“It’s easy to build a nice dish, but can you also reproduce it 400 times?”

Scaling up a casual dining concept is a challenge. 

So many things can go horribly wrong. Consistency, profitability and brand identity are constantly on the line.

Not if you are Kristjan Longar. The COO of Urban Italian Group eats these challenges for breakfast. 

In The Food Service Growth Show, he unpacks how the company grew ‘Basta!’ and ‘Florentine’ concepts into profitable, scalable and hugely popular restaurants. 

Fast Facts

  • Casual and premium dining
  • 8 restaurants
  • 2 concepts
  • 18-20 restaurants in the pipeline
  • All locations are company-owned
  • Zero-depth expansion. Growth is self-financed.

“If you want to be competitive ten years from now, you need to create something today that will be hard to beat then.”

Key Takeaways

👋 Unique Brand Identity: Despite scalability challenges, each location has its unique look and feel. This requires more effort but creates a distinct brand identity and customer experience.

📈 Organic Growth Strategy: Urban Italian Group has a zero-debt growth model, underscoring the financial health of the restaurants.

💪 Operational Excellence with a Competitive Edge: Competitiveness, quick decision-making and a drive for excellence are crucial in the foodservice industry.

👩‍💻 Data-Driven Decision-Making: Urban Italian Group leverages data analytics for strategic decisions, from menu changes to operational efficiency.

“We started to realise that who owns the data is king.” 

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Customer Preferences: In menu development, no one is left behind. “It’s about the 15-year-old daughter who prefers a vegan dinner. She decides where the family of five goes out to eat. 

🛵 Guest Experience Over Delivery: In a bold move, the company focuses on dine-in over delivery, a reminder of the importance of exceptional on-site experiences in driving revenue and brand loyalty.

🔄 Standardised Recipes and Procedures: Kristjan highlights the importance of standardised and documented recipes and procedures for consistency across locations, chefs and shifts.

“It hit me hard when we opened our second restaurant, and things weren’t working as they should: you need a recipe for everything. A tablespoon isn’t always a tablespoon”.

Kristjan Longar Basta

Are you ready to transform your restaurant into a franchising success? 

Listen or watch the full episode now.

👆 Learn from the best at The Food Service Growth Show.

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