Like many key choices in the history of the Pastificio (‘pasta factory’), CEO Gian Luca Rana's decision to open restaurants was an intuitive one; he was among the first to recognize a radical change in consumer behavior and seized the opportunity with both hands.
In the early 2000s, people began to view eating out as an experience in itself, with the trend continuing to grow in popularity. However, it didn’t really affect a product like fresh pasta, which only featured in the weekly shop now and then.
Gian Luca studied this phenomenon and saw an opportunity to break into a new market. He decided to use this trend to his advantage and apply it to fresh pasta, fixing on restaurants as a way to up the consumption of Rana products while achieving a level of integration that could not be attained by supermarket purchases alone.
And so began the Rana restaurant chain: a format that combines snappy service times with the concept of “show food.” Everything happens right before the customer’s eyes, with the food prepared in a large kitchen in full view of the diners. This stage-like space is home to the stars of the show, the dishes themselves, which the chefs prepare with precision and a keen eye for quality and service.
Rana restaurants are much more than just another way to sell more of the company’s products. Little by little, they have become a strategic tool for product innovation. As Gian Luca Rana says, “the restaurants enable us to tune in with consumer needs,” essentially filling the crucial role of culinary laboratory.
In other words, they are a place where we can offer up and test new recipes every day, using an agile approach that would be impossible to achieve through traditional market research and, most importantly, allowing instant feedback from consumers.
This is the secret to the success of Rana products all over the world.
Today’s consumer is elusive; they change their food preferences quickly, jumping on emerging culinary trends that arouse their curiosity and encourage them to sample exciting new foods and flavors every single day.
More than anything else, Rana restaurants’ numbers do the talking: over 1.2 million plates of fresh pasta served, 45 new recipes tested every year, 10 different menus that rotate every year, including in the USA. Over the years, Rana restaurants have become a company within the company, a feather in our cap that employs more than 200 people.
Each new restaurant opening is, in the words of Gian Luca Rana, “like a wedding,” requiring “the same level of care and attention you would give to a baby.” A new Rana restaurant is a new member of the family; another window into the consumer’s world, allowing the Pastificio to build on its understanding of people’s needs and tastes so that it can go on to create unforgettable products.