Interview with Franco Costa (I)

"Covid will pass, but its influence will remain"

Franco Costa, founder and managing director of the Italian Costa Group.
Costa Group
Franco Costa, founder and managing director of the Italian Costa Group.

Franco Costa is one of the big names when it comes to shop fitting in the food and foodservice industry. The work of the Italian star designer can be seen in numerous hot spots of the food trade and gastronomy. Among the reference projects of his company Costa Group is, for example, the Eataly brand of Oscar Farinetti. With FOOD SERVICE, Franco Costa talks about the new challenges posed by the Corona pandemic to the design of new gastronomic areas.

What should a caterer definitely consider when planning a new restaurant?

It must in any case give the guest the feeling of security and create trust already from outside. The caterer must of course increase hygiene measures without forgetting hospitality and a smile. Today, the guest wants to feel protected, but welcome.

What about the room layout?
There will not be a big change. One cannot and must not lose sociability, especially in these difficult times. In fact, more attention must be paid to safety and the creation of optimal conditions for guests, so that they always get the most out of their stay.

Are there changes in terms of colours, shapes and materials?
There are no special instructions here. It is still true that the shop fitting must reflect the soul of the restaurant by enhancing the food and service. Of course, nowadays craftsmanship and know-how play an even more important role in interior design and restaurant operations. Don Bosco, the canonized priest, used to say: "Intelligence is in your hands", a thought that is as valid today as it was then.

Should planning be done in such a way that "normal" use is possible again after Corona?
But certainly! Covid will pass away, but the virus will continue to affect our habits, at least for a few years. People are born to communicate and live together. History teaches us that. Surely this pandemic has influenced our most common behaviour, and the attention to hygiene has grown. Public places must adapt to ensure the guests' sense of security, with long-term solutions that enhance the services offered without major changes, so as not to lose sight of hospitality and to be prepared for any new events that may arise in the future.

Costa Group: Shop fitting for the New Normal

Three tips for restaurateurs planning a new restaurant?
Courage, awareness and skills. It is precisely at this historic moment that great determination is needed to embark on a new project. Fortunately, there are capable entrepreneurs who, despite the difficulties, have the strength to carry on. It is certainly essential to keep abreast of new services and technologies that can simplify processes, improve hygiene and make economic savings. Finally, let's not forget the passion for cooking - always with the future in mind.

How does a restaurateur manage the balancing act between infection protection and a feel-good atmosphere?
As the Costa Group, we believe that the atmosphere is a key element. For this reason, it is important today to make guests more aware of hygiene. Only in this way can the guest feel safe and enjoy the food to the full.

About Costa Group
The Costa Group is a company that specialises in the design and furnishing of gastronomic concepts, food craftsmen and retail locations. The Italian shopfitter can boast more than 5,000 projects all over the world and numerous collaborations with the most important brands in the sectors. Franco Costa is the founder and managing director of the group based in Riccò del Golfo di Spezia in Liguria.

How does one create a restaurant experience in times of social distance?
By changing the stages of the show. For example, the aperitivo moment, so important for us Italians, is meaningfully marked by the barman's show, which is offered at the bar, which thus becomes a meeting place. Today, all this is no longer possible due to social distancing. So let us turn the experience into something unique and special, with spectacular service directly at the table ... a story to live and tell.

What role should delivery play? And what take-away options?
Delivery and Take-Away will surely emerge from this predicament as winners. In Italy, it was already a widespread phenomenon in the big cities, but now it has finally spread on a large scale and become part of everyday life.

Hospitality & Food-Retail in times of Covid-19
During the Cibus Forum from September 2 to 3, 2020 at the Parma Exhibition Centre in Italy, the Costa Group presented a concept for Hospitality & Food Retail in times of the Corona Pandemic. According to this concept, solutions could include colorful compartments as partitions between tables or plants instead of Plexiglas. A take-away shelf for cold and warm products could be equipped with a range of self-cleaning options, a so-called "sanitunnel" placed at the entrance would be used to measure body temperature, check that the masks are being used properly and disinfect the guest with a spray mist.