Gian Luca Rana holds hands with his wife Antonella, and looks over the tables of the Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina, the restaurant he just inaugurated in Manhattan. Then he raises his eyes toward the red motorcycle hanging from the ceiling, the old Guzzi that his father Giovanni drove to take his first products to San Giovanni Lupatoto, the town in the province of Verona where it all started, exactly 50 years ago.
For the brand, this challenge of the new restaurant in New York will be crucial in the company's international strategy. In just 4 years it has opened 28 restaurants in Italy, five in Switzerland and one each in Madrid, London and Luxembourg. «The goal is to multiply the number» explains Antonella, who is in charge of catering «with a program of development on franchise».
For some time Rana family has dreamt of a bridge head in the U.S., capable of generating business and marketing. The choice fell on the Chelsea market, a historical structure in the heart of the Meatpacking district and the ideal stage for anyone who wants to work in fashion and catering.
Since renting the site in red brick, with rough wood floors and thick wood columns, the Ranas have invested 2 million. For months they trained 100 workers. The raw material will be imported from Italy.
«We'll even work at night» says Gian Luca «and before the customers' eyes, we'll produce 250 kilos of fresh pasta a day». In the open kitchen visible from the restaurant, six workers will alternate in the creation of 50 different types of pasta. And in the afternoon there will be a cooking school for children. The store is located next door. A little to one side is a stunning bar counter, with 250 copper and steel graters hanging above it to tickle the fancy of New Yorkers.
The cultural goal is to educate the Americans about what fresh pasta means. This could be just the push needed to accelerate an almost virgin market that Rana wants to conquer with the production of his new Chicago plant. The motorcycle hanging from the ceiling is there as a reminder of the past: «My first memory is of riding in the basket strapped to the package carrier» says Gian Luca «I must have been about 3 years old, sitting there proudly clutching my tray of tortellini». Now the red Guzzi bike has made it all the way to New York.