Taglienti’s Lume shines bright in Milan
A restaurant doesn’t have to exist as a means to only one end. It can also be at the center of many other activities. This is the idea behind Lume, a restaurant that opened a year ago and that is run by chef Luigi Taglienti. The restaurant is part of W37, a multi-functional complex in the Naviglio Grande area of Milan that was once the Richard Ginori porcelain factory.
Lume was awarded a Michelin star just a few months after it opened, and was voted the Best New European Restaurant 2017 by Opinionated About Dining, which is one of the most influential websites in the food community.
In addition to the restaurant, W37 also has three large event spaces, five offices and 29 apartments with amenities like on-site laundry and a car wash, following a more typical American model. MB America, which comes up with business and real estate investment plans for individuals and organizations, is the company behind all of this. It has two offices in Italy and one in Miami.
Taglienti and MB America decided to take a risk on this area on the outskirts of Milan, looking to how neighborhoods have been gentrified in the United States. They’ve done this by making agreements with companies in the area to support the neighborhood together (W37 is on the board of the Around Richard association, which was created for this express purpose).
“The Lume restaurant is a perfect fit for this space because many residents from the nearby apartments come here for dinner and also because we do the catering for the events at W37,” explains Taglienti. In fact, companies that decide to hold events here find Lume to be the answer to all of their food needs, from coffee breaks to light lunches, all the way to gala dinners. “These are events that come to us and not the other way around, via this synergy and these relationships,” adds the chef.
The restaurant, which is located in the center of the complex, was conceived by architect Monica Melotti. There are movable walls and panels that open “book style” so as to be able to modify the location depending on different needs and the number of guests. This makes for a design experience in addition to a culinary one, showcasing two areas of Italian excellence.
Marco Bruzzi, the CEO of MB America, explains that this allows for creating “reciprocal influence between the events and the restaurant,” which is an advantage for both. “Just think that 90% of our events have required catering and there were more than 150 people” up to a maximum of 500 people.
A TURNING POINT AFTER THE MICHELIN STAR
After this first year, chef Taglienti says he is “most definitely satisfied because the project continues to take shape and the restaurant is a success.” The turning point came after the restaurant was included in the Michelin guide, which, beyond just serving to position it, “is also a boost for business development because there is a type of clientele that pays a lot of attention to what happens in the guide and makes decisions based on it.” After Lume was awarded the star, the restaurant saw an increase in visibility and “work increased notably,” but, most importantly, it seems like the challenge of investing in an outlying area of town was a success.
“Many people thought the area was dangerous. But we’ve become a destination. Being outside the center of town is an advantage, both in terms of the services that we offer, such as valet parking, as well as for the customer, who can take his time, which today is a true luxury.” The group’s future strategies (with help from lawyer Guido Galeotti from the Eversheds law firm) include going international both in terms of clientele as well as positioning. So will Lume 2 soon open in, say, Miami? “Anything is possible,” says Taglienti with a smile.