Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Size Matters

Work is well underway to transform the site of the failed Caffe Piccolo Italian restaurant into 'Avventura' a new....erm...Italian restaurant, with a cafe/bar attached.

Aside from my disappointment about the monotony of Italian eateries in Worcester Park, one has to ask why this venture will succeed where Caffe Piccolo failed?

There was, from my few visits there, fundamentally nothing wrong with Caffe Piccolo - decently priced, family friendly, decent food.

No doubt the people behing 'Avventura' are full of optimism and hope that good food and good service will set see them through, but will they too soon be forced to face the reality that the place is simply far too big to be viable in anything other than rosy economic conditions?

Then there is the discounting might of Pizza Express, just across the road, to contend with.

Perhaps Avventura will succeed where Piccolo failed. Perhaps they have found the formula that eluded their predecessors.

Or perhaps they too will soon be learning the hard way that size really does matter. Either way, I wish them luck.

25 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

coffee man said...

Totally agree. Piccolo provided reasonable food at a reasonable price in a comfortable environment.Yet had severe problems.Hence it's demise.
Bellini(bar-cafe-restaurant)just a few doors up the hill is a great place to eat,with really excellent food. yet rarely seems even half full.and is half the size of the ex Piccolo.

Do these people do their homework when starting out on these ventures. I think not!!!

WP Spur said...

Quote: 'There was, from my few visits there, fundamentally nothing wrong with Caffe Piccolo - decently priced, family friendly, decent food.'

Ya gotta be kiddin'. Moody waiter(s) (the girls were OK), Overpriced skinny portions and the ever reliable Pizza Express over the road.

I learnt from an old boss of mine back in the 70s, any retail outlet is only as good as the staff therein. This is generally a pretty good rule of thumb.

Best of luck to the new regime, remember just how busy Cafe Piccolo was at the outset, don't drive your clientele away.

David said...

I agree with WP Spur. On one occasion when I ventured into an empty Caffe Piccolo with my family we were greeted by a miserable, small waiter with, 'Have you booked?' Glancing at a totally custom-less restaurant I was tempted to ask if that was really necessary. However, I replied 'No' and we were shown to the table closest to the toilets, a position in an eatery I absolutely abhor. We were offered another table after asking but after this experience the vision of the solemn, disinterested waiter stuck with me and we never returned.
I think the new venture may need to offer diners 'a more exciting experience': live music? juggling waiters and waitresses perhaps? as well as well-priced, tasty food.

Michele said...

Hi all!
Here's the chef from Avventura Restaurant!
Nice to hear that you're already talking about it!
We will do our best to make yourselves feeling like at home as we do in Italy!
Wish us the best of luck and I hope to see you there!

janet a said...

I always found food the food cheap, portions large and service friendly. However I don't dine out very often, maybe it's my fault they closed!

Anonymous said...

they were only busy to start with as they had no alcohol license so word of mouth got round Worcester park that they were basically giving away alcohol as they were not aloud to charge for it, That's why it was busy to start with.

Scott said...

My wife and I went there a few times over the first 2-3 moths they were open and noticed a marked decrease in service quality and increase in waiter surliness, which is why we stopped going. If the new place can offer good service at sensible prices, and have an interesting menu selection then they should have a chance of doing ok.

WP Spur said...

Good luck Michele, keep the food standard high, the waiting staff motivated and the portions generous and you'll take money.

Cuddington Bear said...

Hubbie and I went for a meal in the Caffe Piccolo and we were hurried up by staff saying they needed the table for others, even though it didn't look that busy - not impressed, weren't even able to stay for a cappuccino! We now prefer La Mamma!

Italiastar said...

Michele,

I really do wish you luck - surprisingly, Worcester Park does need a good Italian restaurant, just like they have in Italy. I hope that you do indeed introduce real Italian food to Wp. You've started in the right place to promote your venture - the Worcester Park Blog is read by many. A few ideas, get your prices right - have a well priced set menu, good priced quality house wine and friendly helpful staff. Why not promote an opening event on here and you could be onto a winner. In bocca al lupo

Sue Harrison said...

La Mamma used to be what we called 'the cheap and cheerful' Italian. However the quality of it's food is now extremely sub-standard and very expensive for it's quality. Having the good luck to be able to eat all across London etc they really do need to buck up their menu and cooking!

Here's hoping the new Italian has soe decent Italian food

Dave said...

Tried the Cafe Picollo three times and found it to be quite bland.After the third and final time, my daughter came home and was sick.We narrowed it down to a reheated seafood dish.
One of the waiters was always under friendly with bad BO.
La Mamma is another place not worth chancing.
Tried Bellinis a few weeks after opening,to be met with two waitresses who did not have a clue.The food was ok though.
A well run Italian restaurant should do well in WP.Why isn't there one.

Italiastar said...

Here here - whilst WP may have a number of Italian restaurants, they appear to be lacking a good one - a quick search for Bellini's on google also throws up some issues here. What we need is a good Italian restaurant, run by Italians, serving good value food and good service - simples eh, Michele. Also, promote yourselves and have opening offers - Here's a god place to start.

Anonymous said...

Cafe piccola was awful. No wonder they went under. As someone wrote, it was busy when the alcohol was free bug the food and service was dismal. My mum was given a prawn salad with 4 baby prawns on it cut in half to make it look more...all for the bargain price of £10! Dreadful.

Martin said...

I suspect that Caffe Piccolo had enormous debts after re-fitting three shop units and it was that which sank them as much as the mediocre service. If the new owners have any sense, they will not spend too much changing the place.

Anonymous said...

..... Too late, they've already gutted the place and rebuilt it - they'll need to recover those costs for a start.

Italiastar said...

No sign of them taking up my suggestion of doing some self promotion here - looks like the Midas Touch may have beaten them to it!

Anonymous said...

Whats happened to this place? is it opening yet - for a moment I thought we'd found someone who was going to communicate via this powerful fourum, like the ex manager of Silks, but alas nothing. Lets hope it doesn't turn into another psuedo italian bar/restaurant.

Worcester Park said...

Anonymous - the new owner is a blog reader and has been in touch with me. Watch this space!

Italiastar said...

I walked past last night and they were preparing for opening next week. I spoke to someone who I guess was the owner and found out that they've got a wood burning pizza oven. This is the only way to cook pizza and if done properly, I'll knock the socks off the place diagonally opposite. I look forward to eating a decent Pizza this side of the Alps.

Kendo said...

I wondered in last week and was met by a very friendly Italian (at least, he sounded Italian!!) fella who was very hard at work getting the place spotless for the opening, which he told me is going to be on Tuesday (13th July), with the coffee bar opening a couple of weeks later.
The menu looks really good - plenty of veggie options for those that way inclined - and reasonably priced.
I wish them the best of luck...yet to see anything in the way of marketing/advertising though (other than allowing people to walk in and chat!) to pull in the punters...

Kendo said...

Correction to my above post: we walked past it last night to find that and it was alreaady open! Don't understand why he told me Tuesday earlier in the week, but anyway we gave it a go.
Anyway, our experience was mixed, which I'll put down to first-night teething trouble. For what we got, I felt it was overpriced but I'll give it a second chance.
Odd set-up with the waiter/waitresses. The 2 girls working there can only take drinks and appetizer orders. The main course order had to be taken by the one guy. My suggestion number 1 would be (so that your new customers aren't kept waiting!) that all staff are trained to take the main course orders!!
The boss seemed to be struggling all night with the electronic till. Suggestion number 2: get your head round it, and then get out there and greet your new customers!!
We will be giving it another shot though, like I said, I guess it's just first night teething...

Mark said...

Went to Bellini's the other day. Very good food indeed and friendly service. I had a chat with the owner who's trying to get more people in. He's a nice (Italian) guy who's pretty passionate about serving good quality food. I hope it works out for him.

Katy Four said...

How prescient was the WPB with this post...

Gordo's Neighbour said...

Yup. Worcester Park had it's chance, and we blew it. Turkish kebaby anyone?

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