The show must go on! How to create an opportunity in times of crisis
Let me introduce myself: my name is Armin ZadakBar and I am the CEO of The Armin Bar (NYC|Milan), a Digital Marketing agency that is part of the Talent Garden Calabiana community. I also teach marketing at the Bologna Business School for Executive Masters, and I’m a faculty member of Talent Garden Innovation School.
In the last few years, we mainly focused on the Food & Beverage and Hospitality sector, with the majority of our clients being small and medium-sized companies, except for some corporate clients such as Lavazza.
The sudden impact of COVID-19 has put a strain on the economy and on the survival of countless companies, and hasn’t spared my agency. Sadly, we had to witness the temporary (and in some cases permanent) closure of the activities of many of our clients and, as you can imagine, our business was impacted with this domino effect. At this point it was necessary to find a solution, to reinvent ourselves. This was necessary for our survival and what I am about to share with you, is a success story.
This ‘reinvention’ was the reason that prompted me in collaboration with two of my team members (Priscila Hernández Limas, Head of Marketing and Communication, and Camilla Cerioni, Account Manager), together with one of our most important clients, Luca Guelfi of the Luca Guelfi Company, to join forces and confront each other, with the aim of understanding how to transform this moment of crisis into an opportunity. We brainstormed and after 9 days we created Via Archimede, Gastronomia di Quartiere, a Ghost Kitchen that takes its name from the famous street where many of the restaurants of our partner Luca Guelfi are located.
What is a “ghost kitchen”: a ghost kitchen is nothing more than a fully equipped and perfectly compliant kitchen that deals with the preparation of dishes, only for home delivery. In a nutshell, a restaurant kitchen … without a restaurant!
In this project we also involved Simone Monetti, also part of the Talent Garden community (Talent Garden Merano, in Milan), as a Developer.
Opening a ghost kitchen means cutting the set-up and staff costs typical of a restaurant, which includes a commercial space, interior design and furniture, restaurant services, etc. This allowed us to respect the market, the economic situation (thanks to a menu with affordable prices in line with the idea of trattoria and of homemade food) and, above all, the current situation of our customers.
For home deliveries we did not rely on the classic delivery platforms such as Glovo or Deliveroo (which usually take 30% commissions), but we decided to put ourselves at the forefront by having our dishes delivered to our staff. This allows us to guarantee our customers that all orders follow the current hygiene rules, both in the kitchen and during the delivery phase.
In Via Archimede, we are five partners, all with equal shares of 20%. In addition to Luca Guelfi (mentioned above) and my agency for marketing and communication, we have Marco Fossati (chef of Shimokita) and Emanuele Gasperini (chef of Saigon) who are in charge of the kitchen, working alongside our operational manager Giovanni Verri, manager at Canteen.
I can happily say that our launch was a success: from the opening day, April 10th, we have already been mentioned by newspapers of the caliber of Corriere della Sera, Gambero Rosso, Fine Dining Lovers, GQ Italia, Il Milanese Imbruttito and many others, which helped to create brand awareness, allowing us to reach the break-even point in the first week.
The orders during the first days were so many that we all started to put different hats on and literally do everything; we, the partners, were the first to put ourselves on the front line by delivering the orders from one house to another.
As for the future, I believe after the lockdown period, it will take a long time to regain our previous routines. But one thing is certain, people will want to continue eating tasty and genuine dishes, but without the ability to spend €70/80 as before. This will lead to a downsizing of restaurant activities and related prices. This is why I am confident that our project is in line with the evolution of this sector in the coming months/year(s).