hospitalitytoday.com | 21 Denise is the driver behind visits, bringing her family with her, so it’s very important to give her what she wants. At Café Rouge, the love for the brand still existed with customers but they just hadn’t been for ages. Again, it was tired and rundown and the food and service was simply not good enough. Café Rouge was also re-energised and refurbished to create the right food and environment and bring it back into fashion. The menu was stripped back to basics to authentic French classics made with the right ingredients. Extending the Café Rouge brand, a graband-go offer has been introduced at Euston, Oriel, Café Rouge’s premium sister, has been launch in towns such as Chislehurst, a site has opened in Dubai and its ‘other sister brand’ Belgo, which has actually been around for 25 years, has also been refreshed with new site openings. At the heart of Casual Dining Group are its brands and the first transformational year saw the revival of Bella Italia and Café Rouge. Bella Italia was a ‘fairly brown, rundown and forgotten’ brand, but a great estate made up of fantastic locations. The plan was simple, to refresh the whole offer, including refurbishment, staff, training, food and opening out to leisure parks and overseas. The new menu featured stretched pizza and fresh pasta made with authentic Italian ingredients from a new supply chain. Customers reacted well and double digit growth was achieved. ‘Project DNA’ researched 284 Bella Italia customers and identified three distinct customer groups: the 16-18-year-olds out for the first time in a ‘safe place’; families; and loyalists. The loyalists, internally dubbed “Denise and Keith”, are an older couple who made up 14% of the customer base but a staggering 50% of sales. The second year of transformation stepped up the growth of Casual Dining Group with two significant acquisitions: Las Iguanas, the “brand deal”, and La Tasca, “for the properties”. Las Iguanas was a proven and very attractive brand of 25 years that boasted like-for-like growth for ten consecutive years. It complemented the original portfolio and appealed to the 25-30 year olds, not the Denises, avoiding any cross-cannibalisation of brands.