By schorschi

Spaghetti Factory Undercover Day 1

First, let me say this is not my work but from a design company JÜTA ENTERPRISES of Zürich who went into liquidation in the late 90s and have been removed from the Swiss Company Listings. I cannot, therefore, contact them.

The contract to produce this postcard, one of a series of six in my possession, was given by my then employer Grand Metropolitan Retailing as marketing giveaways in the restaurants.

Back in 1988 with the boom in business brought about by the EU membership of the UK, many British firms were on an expansion course. Grand Met plc amongst them, doing big deals to buy Pillsbury Foods, the Jolly Green Giant and Alpo Dog food giants in the USA and all sorts of weird and wonderful businesses from opticians, to Burger King and anything with a name.

Our division, GM Retailing. was hunting around like mad and I somehow got more and more involved in the so-called "Special Operations Division". Getting into Pasta & Pizza with the acquisition of a chain named "Pastificio", I even remember going out to Heathrow and Gatwick to spy out the operation of a fresh fruit franchise business based on a machine that made fresh to order "fruit cocktails" from tiny booths at places like airports. Fresh but expensive.

Then one day my boss called me in.
"You have some knowledge of Germany & German, don' t you?"
"Well sort of, my mother was German but we never spoke the language and yes I have been there on several holidays as a child but ......."
"Right, on Wednesday meet a certain Peter T at Heathrow and go out to Switzerland for a couple of days and evaluate a business we are looking at there. A small chain of half a dozen Pasta restaurants that are setting Switzerland alight. We want to buy it - called "Spaghetti Factory"

And so I got to meet Peter T, a guy in his very late 50s or early 60s, not a company employee but a consultant with his own business. Never really found out what he did do in his past, some mention of seemingly somewhat shady security stuff but he was clearly successful and importantly was a very good friend of one of the GM plc main board members.

On the flight, I was a bit weary but by the time we landed at Basel, we had struck up a cordial business relationship. Picked up a hire car and drove into Basel for our first encounter with a Spaghetti Factory right in the centre of the lovely old town and we had glorious warm late summer weather. We sat outside and had a coffee, it was too early for lunch and much public. Nice smart looking clean place though.

So back in the car and drove the 60km to the small Swiss town of Aarau. Looking on the web now in 2018, there is a restaurant named Spaghetti Factory Salmen there and a lot about the long tradition of an Italian family that seems to have been in the wine and gastronomy business but I can't link them in any way to the 1988 Spaghetti factory chain. And the restaurant on Google does not fit my recollection of the unit I have which I am sure was a little out of town and perched above it.

There we had a good lunch and at a reasonable price, I am sure Peter T had a glass of wine as he had thrown me the car keys in Basel.

We then moved on for the next 60km trip to the airport at Zürich where we ditched our bags at a swish hotel had a freshen up and rest and then took a taxi into the centre of Zürich where I think there were two units. At one of them, we again had some Italian food and lots of wine before returning to the hotel.

More to follow tomorrow.......

Comments New comments are not currently accepted on this journal.