Marc Vetri, the chef behind some of Philadelphia's most beloved and successful restaurants, announced today that he's selling his restaurant group to mega clothing and lifestyle retailer Urban Outfitters. The deal, which should close before the end of the year, according to Philly.com, includes Amis Trattoria, Osteria, Alla Spina, Lo Spiedo and Pizzeria Vetri, but not the flagship Vetri.
The chef and his crew were already planning on opening a Pizzeria Vetri (the most casual of their restaurants) in an Urban Outfitters in Austin, but the team will now be in charge of all of the food and beverage operations at Urban locations around the country. So this is a huge leap for them. The move is a somewhat-surprising one for a restaurateur who has shied away from investors, taking on debt to open each of his restaurants without significant outside financial help—even when it came knocking on his door.
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While it may seem unusual, the move isn't so strange considering that both Vetri and Urban are Philadelphia-based companies with neighboring offices in the city's Navy Yard and the two have partnered together on charitable events for several years. Philly people trust other Philly people. (Full disclosure: I hail from the City of Brotherly Love.)
Urban's investment will allow Vetri to expand without having the same overhead costs of leasing a space, hiring an architect and dealing with payroll—and the financial agreement, while not public yet, was likely generous. Meanwhile, Urban hopes to use the restaurants to lure more online-shopping-devoted millennials into its spaces.
Vetri promises there won't be changes at his restaurants, telling Philly.com: "Nothing is changing. In meetings, everyone from Urban kept saying, 'It's more crucial than ever that you guys are at your restaurants.'"
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