Barbieri and the legal ingredient in his new format
Opening a restaurant and making it a profitable business is a challenge for any businessperson. When a chef embarks upon an adventure like this, he or she often needs management support in order to be successful and avoid the risk of closing prematurely. This is the idea behind the collaboration between Bruno Barbieri and the Sapg law firm, which has come up with an “à la carte” service for chefs opening restaurants.
The firm offers all-round consulting for all phases of the project, from the renting or purchase of the location to coming up with a budget, all the way to managing business processes. This process led to the opening of Barbieri’s new restaurant Fourghetti in Bologna in June 2016. And it will be further expanded upon as the brand is exported abroad, from the United States to Asia.
Lawyer Francesco Sibilla tells MAG that the consulting activities created by Sapg (a law firm with experience in the food industry, accounting for 20% of its revenues), allowing the firm “to become the ‘tailor’ of the project, building the brand and the company structure, going from mere business consulting all the way to actual management.”
All of the key players — from the chefs to the investors and the consultants — gather around the table along with Francesco Sibilla to come up with the strategic business and financial plan together. The lawyer, explains Sibilla oversees the management of a part of the business process and contributes to the anticipated investment. “So from mere technical consultant, and a further cost that doesn’t go over well with businesspeople, the lawyer becomes a manager” whose contribution is fundamental for the success of the project.
This consulting also includes a so-called investment agreement, the contract that covers renting or purchasing a location, marketing and communications for the restaurant’s new brand, managing suppliers, sponsorships as well as permissions from local authorities.
These types of initiatives are targeted mainly toward businesses that, while they may not have a structured management team, do benefit from a great deal of publicity. Barbieri, a judge on MasterChef with a large fan following, is exactly the type of starred chef that is not fully a businessperson and that needs consulting from a law firm to offset the economic effects of the investment.
“Once, we were all sentimental gastronomes, but the world has changed,” Barbieri tells MAG. “Today, a chef needs to be a business in and of himself, no longer closed up in a kitchen. A chef needs to take part in all kinds of activities in this world, going to conferences and trade fairs, while also dealing with the image and management of various restaurants.”
Thus, with help from investor Silvia Belluzzi who raised capital and organized business activities, the chef and Sapg were able to launch Fourghetti in Bologna with the objective of offering quality food that is more accessible (the average bill is 70 euros). The estimated turnover for the restaurant, adds Sibilla, is “certainly well over a million euros, in line with the forecasts in the business plan and current sales.”
OPENING NEXT IN MIAMI
In the mid-to-long term, the goal is to take Fourghetti abroad, specifically Miami where the first restaurant is to be opened overseas in 2017. New York, Singapore and Dubai are also targeted cities where there is a great deal of interest in fine Italian cuisine. Barbieri thinks that Italian restaurants “need to have that something extra. We need more young people that believe in new projects” while he believes that organizations and the state should “make sure that the gastronomic legacy that belongs to us all can play a key role around the world and represent our country in a serious way.”
Barbieri, with his TV appearances and his social-media presence along with the new adventure with Fourghetti, is trying to do his part to “contribute to the development of the local area, the country and many producers that don’t have the ability to reach a larger audience.”
And to those who criticize star chefs like him, he says: “They need to learn to be less provincial, more open-minded and more modern and understand that it’s finally our turn now.”