By Maura Schmidt
If you find yourself keeping up with current Philadelphia related news, chances are you have heard the name Marc Vetri mentioned frequently within the last few months. As many Philadelphians know, Marc Vetri is the award winning restaurateur responsible for bringing staples such as Vetri, Pizzeria Vetri, Osteria, Amis, Alla Spina and Lo Spiedo to the city. Many of these establishments have gained local and even national praise throughout the years. Most recently, the flagship restaurant, Vetri, was named to Time Out’s list of the twenty best Italian restaurants in the United States in the number one position.
Margherita Taglio Pizza of Pizzeria Vetri, which first opened in 2013 to rave reviews (Photo by TheTownDish.com)
With all of the positive press the Vetri company has gained since beginning their Philadelphia empire in 1998, many patrons expected continued expansion looking toward the future. However, this past November, the Vetri company made an announcement about the future of their business that was met with a fair amount of backlash among both longtime patrons and other local restaurateurs. Marc Vetri made the decision to sell a the majority of his family of restaurants to fellow Philadelphia-based company, Urban Outfitters. The sale was completed for an undisclosed price and includes the acquisition of one hundred percent of business, apart from flagship restaurant, Vetri. According to Philly Mag, Vetri is extremely pleased with the deal- calling it “an unprecedented event in the restaurant and retail world.”
While specific plans for the acquisition have not been made public knowledge, Vetri has spoken vaguely about the initial ideas that Urban Outfitters has for the expansion of the Italian-based eateries. While critics have bashed the rumors of future Urban Outfitter retail stores including a Vetri Pizzeria, Marc Vetri promises that this will not be the case. In the same interview with Philly Mag, Vetri claims, “We’re not going to put a restaurant inside of a store. That, for sure, won’t happen.” Urban Outfitters will be working with Vetri to build a combination of both stores and lifestyle centers, according to early talk between the two companies. Vetri explains that nothing is set in stone just yet, and that the plan is still in the early evaluation stages.
Additional news regarding plans for the restaurant brand’s place under the Urban Outfitters umbrella is likely to be announced in the next few months. In the meantime, the initial reaction from both the Philadelphia community and Urban Outfitter’s investors has not been ideal. The term ‘sell out’ has been used to describe Marc Vetri following his decision by many Philadelphia area chefs and media outlets. On the other hand, Urban Outfitters investors were said to be very surprised by the deal which resulted in a 7.5% drop in Urban stock on the very same day the sale was made public.
Only time will tell if this surprising decision was a stroke of genius on Vetri’s part, or a kiss of death for his brand.