#CBfriends: il FORNO Group


The hero of our new material from the #CBfriends section is Genrikh Karpin, managing partner and co-owner of il FORNO Group . Heinrich studied in England, graduated from European Business School, and worked in leading investment companies. He completed financial trainings all over the world, after which he worked in Vienna and Moscow. In parallel with financial activities, in 2006, together with his partners, he decided to open the Limoncino restaurant, from which the history of the il FORNO Group holding began.

Tell us a little about yourself: how did your journey in this field begin and how did you start working on the il FORNO project ?

In general, I am a specialist in the banking sector, and came to Moscow back in 2003 to develop the stock market business. As expected, I whiled away my evenings in various restaurants in Moscow, and one day (after several bottles of wine, of course) the thought came to mind - why spend so much money on entertainment in other people's restaurants, if it is much easier to open your own?

A month later, friends found the first premises on the street. Trade union, and I, completely not understanding what I was agreeing to, gave the go-ahead. 9-10 months later, in 2006, we opened our first Italian restaurant, Limoncino, which is still very popular and which I affectionately call my old lady, grandma.

In general, this business is a pleasure for me - I spend a lot of time in restaurants and pay attention to service, quality of food and details important for the life of a restaurant.

When the 2008 crisis hit, I clearly understood that I needed to invest money in the real sector of the economy - and began looking for premises to open a restaurant. So, in 2010, the first il FORNO restaurant opened on Neglinnaya.

Your establishments are united by Italian cuisine, but what is unique about each concept?

What unites us, of course, is Italian cuisine - the most diverse in the world. My friends and I did some research and found out that you can eat Italian cuisine 365 days a year and never repeat it - it’s so incredibly varied. In addition, due to this, this kitchen wins along with other establishments: you can come with a group of 10 people, and everyone will find something for themselves on the menu.

Each concept of our restaurants is unique in its own way: we take into account the average bill, location, and vision of service.

Are the same service standards used across all concepts? Or are they changing?

In all restaurants, it is extremely important for us to adapt a high level of quality food and service. The ideology of il FORNO Group is quality products. Everything we do for guests is done as if for ourselves. In my restaurants, I spend a lot of time selecting ingredients - I try every dish and carefully control the quality of the products.

What are you consciously drawing their attention to?

We immediately pay attention to many details, without which the normal functioning of the restaurant is impossible. This includes working with service, which will retain guests, and directly increasing guest loyalty - we are constantly developing special offers for food and drinks, trying to surprise guests with what is on the plate.

Do your visitors pay attention to the dishes? Is there one they especially like?

Today, the serving of dishes is highly interconnected with the container in which they are served. We recently conducted an experiment - we completely changed the dishes to colored ones with different shades and shapes. And to be honest, the guests appreciated the changes in a positive way - they showed delight to the directors of the establishments and rushed to voice it on social networks. So the appearance of the food is very important.

Do you highlight specific dishes and drinks from your menu? Are there those who would fully let you feel the spirit of the establishment?

Of course, there are particularly interesting menu items that we try to offer to all guests. For example, the signature pizza on rye dough, which we were the first to prepare in Moscow. You can find this kind of pizza in il FORNO, in cafe-pizzerias FORNETTO, and in “Limoncino”. Also, our signature burgers on brioche buns, which became a hit with Burger&Pizzetta, were in such demand that we decided to launch them in other projects of the holding. We also offer guests unique lemonades, smoothies and teas, which are developed by the holding’s creative chef bartender.

But we still try to minimize such an experience, since each restaurant is unique in its dishes.

seating area for guests at il FORNO

How did you select the interior concepts? Have you thought about the utensils while discussing possible solutions?

Of course, when discussing the concept of the interior and the entire establishmentIn general, negotiations are ongoing at the same time about the correct serving of food and drinks. The success of a restaurant among guests is directly related to the presentation of dishes, so we spend a lot of time working on this.

Was it difficult to find suitable utensils and equipment? How important do you think the role of tableware is in creating an atmosphere?

Finding the right tableware in Moscow is becoming more and more difficult: high competition between restaurants, creative colleagues who strive to surprise guests. Therefore, we actively monitor the world restaurant experience - for example, we look at dishes in restaurants in Asia, Europe, and America. Although, it is worth saying that their establishments have a lot to learn from Moscow restaurateurs.

Who is behind your signature dishes and drinks?

Behind every successful dish or drink is a tremendous amount of teamwork. Of course, my vision, desires and ideas, which the team translates into reality, play a big role. At the same time, we also discuss and implement their ideas.

But still, the main thing is teamwork. Seeing a common goal and moving towards it is the formula for success. Simple and working.

Do you experiment with menus or stick to traditional Italian flavors and drink/food pairings?

In our establishments, we adhere to 80% of traditions, because Italian cuisine is good for its high-quality combinations, proven over centuries. At the same time, we are always ready to offer the guest our new vision of a particular dish, after which we look at the reaction and make a decision whether the experiment was successfully carried out or not.

common seating area for guests at il FORNO

The kitchen in the Burger & Pizzetta project at the opening was directed by Glen Ballis. How effective is this experience? And how does the staff work after the departure of the star chef? Are you planning similar projects in the future?

Glen Ballis, a good friend of mine, opened up new horizons for us to understand the restaurant business. After his departure, we continue to adhere to his style, but at the same time we added our own vision. As guests say, we do it well.

Very soon we will open new Burger&Pizzetta establishments in the center of Moscow and in large shopping centers, and the philosophy introduced by Glen Ballis will definitely be preserved.

Do chefs undergo internships in other restaurants or abroad?

Of course, internships in other countries, and simply in other restaurants, are very useful for chefs in terms of expanding their horizons, a new look at familiar things, and also for the emergence of new creative ideas.

We have experience in organizing internships for our chefs. For example, a new meat restaurant, 800°C Contemporary Steak, will open very soon, and we sent a chef to Monaco for an internship at the Beef Bar restaurant to look at the Western approach to cooking meat and learn new subtleties.

This is a unique and, I believe, mandatory experience, and we plan to carry out such processes in our holding in the future.

Which country's restaurant market is your benchmark?

Perhaps this will be a discovery for some, but I am sure many will agree with me. Today, the level of restaurants that exist in Moscow can be found in few places in the world.

Of course, there is the experience of New York or London with their unique restaurant concepts, and we regularly look at them and learn something new. But still, for me, the standard of the restaurant market is Moscow, with its high competition and variety of offers.

Are there any plans to open restaurants outside of Russia or in the regions?

Of course, I want to expand the boundaries of ownership of il FORNO Group, and, of course, I am considering other sites. We are considering the UK, Europe, and the countries of the post-Soviet space. We are sure that in the near future you will hear about our projects in different countries.

You offer cooperation on a franchise basis - aren’t you afraid of losing the originality of your establishments?

I like the idea of a franchise as a business, and I am trying to develop this direction in il FORNO in parallel with all brand concepts. At the moment, we already have one franchise - in Kazakhstan, and we do not plan to stop there. Now we have quite a lot of negotiations with potential investors in Russia and abroad.

Of course, there are risks in this business (and which ones don’t?). But it is important to choose the right partners and discuss all the details in advance.

cozy seating for guests in the restaurant il FORNO

How did you decide to collaborate with us? What aspects do you value most about working with Complex-Bar?

For us, cooperation with Complex-Bar is cooperation with a leader intableware market. We have many years of experience, during which we acquired a reliable partner who, with an understanding of our needs, offers high-quality tableware and implements our sometimes crazy ideas. We also appreciate the advice, help and support we receive. Over time, our work only becomes more effective.

Do you know about the MONIN Academy project? Is it interesting to you in terms of improving the skills of bartenders in the chain?

Of course, I have heard a lot about the MONIN Academy. For each of our establishments, a good bar reputation and good name are extremely important, and therefore we try to be at the peak of the movement and keep abreast of all the exciting news. My bar managers regularly tell me about these courses, and bartenders even take part.

Genrikh Karpin, managing partner and co-owner of il FORNO Group

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