Very early this morning, The Insider dropped the news that Marc Vetri–after years of being pestered by his fans–would open his namesake restaurant (which remains one of the best in the city) for lunch.
Not every day, of course. Not even on most days. But for three days: The first Friday of the month for the next three months.
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The future home of the EAT Cafe on Lancaster Avenue where Powelton Village and Mantua meet. Photos | Sandy Smith
Can a restaurant fight hunger and build community at the same time?
The answer to this question would seem obvious. A restaurant serves food, so of course it fights hunger. And it brings people in from outside to dine, often frequently, so it can become a community hub as well.
But throw in food insecurity, and broaden that community to include poor people struggling with that issue, and the answer becomes much less obvious. A typical restaurant isn’t set up to accommodate the truly hungry, nor can it handle those who may not be able to afford the cost of a meal.
The EAT Cafe on Lancaster Avenue, set to open this spring, isn’t a typical restaurant. Instead, it’s the first example in Philly of a model that tackles that other form of hunger-fighting and community-building, one that has popped up in more than 100 cities across the country.
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When we heard that the Vetri restaurants were being acquired by Urban Outfitters, we all wondered what kind of changes might be afoot for the local dining establishments. Well, we’ve now learned about one major change that has resulted in a loss of employment for 30 Vetri workers. Read more »
Marc Vetri, whose eponymous restaurant is habitually nominated for best service by the James Beard Foundation, took to Twitter this morning to rip a customer who dined at his restaurant last night.
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Marc Vetri with Frank Olivieri at Pat’s Steaks
Marc Vetri is next up for Pat’s Steaks Guest Chef Series. Vetri is preparing a ribeye steak with Di Bruno Bros’ mortadella, taleggio, cherry peppers, onions and Cheez Whiz on roll.
The steak will be available on Thursday, January 21st from 3 to 5 p.m. The steaks will cost $10 each and all sales will benefit the Vetri Community Partnership.
Frank Olivieri says, “I’m so honored to have Marc Vetri design a cheesesteak and cook with me to benefit his charity.” For Vetri, it is a pleasure to work with Olivieri. “Frank is always there for us. The sandwich I created is like an Italian Cubano sandwich. You have the mortadella and the steak and Tallegio, and the peppers and onions cut it beautifully. The combination of ingredients is really delicious.”
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Time Out has been hard at work recently, rounding a whole bunch of lists of the best stuff in America. And now that they’ve gotten around to Italian food, it seems that they’ve dropped in on Philly to give us a little love.
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There was a lot of head-scratching this week when Urban Outfitters, struggling in sales, purchased the Vetri Family restaurant group. I understand the concern over a beloved local figure and craftsman “selling out” to a corporation famous for flannel and failed attempts at irony. But Urban and the Vetri people have worked together for years, and two big Philly power players are a match made in business heaven. (For those still bummed: The crown jewel Vetri-name restaurant wasn’t sold. Marc Vetri and co. also pledge to oversee all their Philly restaurants as usual — we’ll certainly notice if they don’t.)
The most interesting thing about this deal isn’t the people involved. It’s one of the reasons Urban’s chief development officer, Dave Ziel, gave for the purchase: filling a social void. As Ziel told Philly.com, “We think retailing needs to become more experiential … I think there’s a craving for real socializing beyond social media.” Read more »
The Melanzana at Pizzeria Vetri | Photo by Courtney Apple
Pizzeria Vetri has made national news over the past couple of days because of Urban Outfitters announcement that it was purchasing Marc Vetri’s pizza chain and the rest of his restaurants (minus the eponymous Vetri). Headlines have blared “Why Urban Outfitters Made Its Controversial Pizza Purchase,” “Urban Drops After Saying It Will Buy Pizza Chain” and “It Will Take More Than a Pizza Party to Sure Up Urban Outfitters.” The business end of the deal has been covered excellently by our business reporter Jared Shelly, but we’re the food guys, and we want to talk pizza.
So for all the Wall Street analysts, URBN stockholders, University of Texas Seniors and everyone else who has been meaning to try Marc Vetri’s jump into casual dining, here is your guide to getting the most out of Pizzeria Vetri.
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One of the biggest questions looming about the Urban Outfitters–Vetri Family of restaurants deal was a simple one: How much did Urban pay to acquire the company?
Urban’s chief financial officer told Bloomberg Business that it paid less than $20 million for the restaurant group. (Both sides announced the deal Monday without disclosing financial terms. I asked Marc Vetri in a wide-ranging interview yesterday, but he declined to answer.) Read more »
Marc Vetri treated Tuesday like any other day. He spent his morning at Amis Trattoria on 13th Street, talking about the menu with the chef. Then he rolled over to Osteria on North Broad Street to do the same. Tonight, he’ll “roam around his restaurants” to make sure the vibe and the food are just right. Just like always.
But there’s little doubt that Tuesday is more than just another day. A day earlier, Vetri agreed to sell his family of restaurants to Urban Outfitters for an undisclosed price. In an interview Tuesday morning, Vetri said “we were never for sale” but that the synergy between the two companies was too strong to let the deal pass. Apart from the restaurant Vetri on Spruce Street, Urban now owns 100 percent of the business. Read more »