Is fine Italian dining the next hipster obsession? If corporate mergers have anything to say about it, that may well be the case as Urban Outfitters, Inc. (URBN) has just announced plans to acquire the Vetri Family restaurant group. The Philadelphia-based Vetri family is known for its eponymous flagship Italian restaurant, regionally focused Osteria and Amis, gastropub Alla Spina, rotisserie grill Lo Spiedo, and Pizzeria Vetri, all of which will be included in the acquisition. Vetri was named F&W's Best New Chef in 1999 and is known for his creative pastas and perfectly chewy and crispy Neapolitan pizzas.
Urban Outfitters, Inc. purchased his entire group except for Vetri on Spruce Street. Day-to-day operations of the restaurants will remain under current partners chef Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin. Vetri says the URBN partnership is "a perfect match" to scale up their operations while still focusing on the food and customer experience. The Vetri Family will also oversee URBN's other food brands, including their existing cafes and planned shopping/dining so-called lifestyle centers.
Though it seems like this sale is first of it's kind in the restaurant world, the deal makes sense. The restaurant group will be opening a pizza restaurant in Austin, Texas and Vetri feels that the culture of the Urban is similar to his restaurant group. The purchased doesn't mean that restaurants will not be popping up in the actual stores however, Vetri will be in charge of Urban's in-store cafes. With regard to any updates to the established Vetri eateries, chef Vetri was quoted as saying "Nothing is changing."
That's a shame, as I was looking forward to what an Urban Outfitters-outfitted Italian ristorante would look like: pizzas served on a USB-compatible turntable, middle finger and mustache-shaped pasta, and fine bottles of Chianti stored on sets of pink deer antlers. Oh well, I just hope the restaurant dress code will now accommodate my pre-distressed faux-vintage Van Halen t-shirt. It's the most expensive piece of clothing I own.