Harden's survey result
Now over ten years old, this Venetian/Mediterranean chain has suffered a drip-feed of branch closures, with only two now trading: Soho and Chelsea. And in August 2020 it parted ways with its co-founder Russell Norman. Fans do still applaud the duo’s “very convivial and fun” formula, but the groups woes have stemmed from Venetian small plates that are often “no better than fine”, and at worst “uncared for” or “very mediocre”. Perhaps it will now finally turn a corner?
Now ten years old, Russell Norman and Richard Beatty’s Venetian/Mediterranean chain faces the well-publicised challenge of a March CVA (Company Voluntary Agreement), amidst a drip-feed of branch closures. Fans do still applaud its “very convivial and fun” formula, but even they often feel it’s “somewhat lost its way”, with staff who can seem “overwhelmed” and serving Venetian small plates that are often “no better than fine”, and at worst “uncared for” or “very mediocre”.
Russell Norman’s “buzzy and very casual” cicchetti cafés still have a large fan club who applaud “very tasty, tapas-style fare”, “drinkable wine served in tumblers” and a “friendly atmosphere”. But the feeling that it “was once original, but has now been bypassed and needs updating” captures the mood of a fair few who “expected more” of the “hit ’n’ miss service” and “uninspired food”.
“Delicious Venetian-style tapas” is still applauded by the big fanclub of Russell Norman’s “rammed-and-noisy or buzzy (you take your pick)” cicchetti cafés, which can still offer “a fun time” without breaking the bank. However there’s also a significant sceptical minority, who nowadays view their performance as “a bit tired” or even “oh-so-disappointing”.
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