Urban Outfitters’ business model is no longer just overpriced beanies and flannel shirts, but also high-end Italian food. The mainstream hipster clothing chain recently purchased a majority of James Beard Award-winning Philadelphia-based chef Marc Vetri and restaurateur Jeff Benjamin’s restaurant group, the Vetri Family. According to Philly.com, the deal—which will likely be completed by the end of this year—means that UO will own Osteria, Amis, Alla Spina, Lo Spiedo, and Pizzeria Vetri. The chef’s flagship restaurant, Vetri, will not be included in the sale.
Vetri promises the news site that customers will not notice a change: “Nothing is changing. In meetings, everyone from Urban kept saying, ‘It’s more crucial than ever that you guys are at your restaurants.’”
No employee moves or logo changes are planned. However, UO will now take over office duties like payroll and human resources. And the Vetri Family group will now handle all of UO’s parent company URBN’s food and beverage brands.
As retailing morphs into creating lifestyle experiences, Urban Outfitters buys a restaurant company. https://t.co/JGMQ1J0qe5
— Bill Taylor (@practicallyrad) November 16, 2015
That is actually a big undertaking. Over the last few years, URBN has pushed to open a number of “lifestyle concept” shops which go beyond just shopping and feature other services like a barber shop, a nail salon, and, most notably, restaurants. Urban Outfitters’ latest lifestyle concept, Space 24 Twenty, is slated to open in Austin soon and it features restaurants from Vetri and Michael Symon. A lifestyle concept by UO features a restaurant by chef Ilan Hall. Another location in Los Angeles contains an Umami Burger outpost. Other URBN owned brands such as Anthropologie are also opening lifestyle concepts, which means more restaurants to manage.
Plus, it looks like UO has plans to expand Vetri’s Pizzeria Vetri concept. In a press release, UO CEO Richard Hayne notes: “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.“
Does this mean all Pizzeria Vetri’s will now be located within Urban Outfitters? Will UO open more independent restaurants? Will the clothing company buy more restaurant groups? The future is unclear, but so far, investors are not loving the idea: the clothing company’s stock price fell today.