Urban Outfitters, purveyors of skinny jeans and casual beanies, announced this morning it had acquired a majority of The Vetri Family group of restaurants, owned by James Beard Award-winning chef Marc Vetri and his partner Jeff Benjamin, including Amis Trattoria, Osteria, Alla Spina, LoSpiedo, and Pizzeria Vetri. Vetri, the restaurant founded by the partners in 1998, is not included in the sale, according to Philly.com. According to the release, Urban plans to expand the Pizzeria Vetri brand into forthcoming Urban Outfitters spaces.
Of his expansion into Austin, Vetri told Eater last month, "We had been looking around in Washington and New York City. I imagined we would have opened our first restaurant outside of the Philadelphia area a little bit closer [to Philadelphia], but leases and finding spaces just didn't work out that way." But why would a James Beard award-winning chef partner with a retail brand built on a look popular among American millennial hipsters? The demographic reach is certainly one reason. Urban Outfitters also owns Anthropologie, Bhldn (a wedding line), Free People, and Terrain (a home decor brand). Over the past decade, the company has carved out a highly specific niche, popular among women aged 18 to 35.
Its marketing muscle, existing real estate, and cash was surely Vetri's reason for selling out. Cash is a reason chefs have signed with Urban in the past. But what happens when a publicly traded company buys a private, fledgling, local restaurant group? URBN stock is down after announcement of the news.
Richard A. Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters, Inc. said of the new partnership: "Having known Marc for almost a decade and partnered with him through his charitable foundation, we are honored to have him, Jeff and the Vetri family join the URBN team. Spending on casual dining is expanding rapidly, and thus, we believe there is tremendous opportunity to expand the Pizzeria Vetri concept."
Vetri said of the news: "It's a perfect match. URBN and the Vetri Family share the same singular goal, we pride ourselves on bringing the best possible experience to our customers and community. Through this partnership, and the experience URBN has in scaling growth opportunities, the Vetri Family will now be able to focus on what we do best — run restaurants that make people happy."
Update 11/20/15: This post has been updated to reflect a correction. Urban Outfitters has not confirmed that every new location of its retail stores will include a Pizzeria Vetri, only that the company plans to open three new Pizzeria Vetris in the new year, and some of these may be built into retail stores. Others may open as stand-alone restaurants. Urban Outfitters plans to spend no more than $1 million on the build out of each new restaurant. The retailer spent less than $20 million on the acquisition.