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Osteria expands, providing brunch and lunch services
Chef Fabio Viviani isn’t new to the restaurant industry, but he is new to the Sooner State.
Viviani has 23 restaurants nationwide, with some in major cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles.
But in October, he took on his first venture in Oklahoma City. He came to the state in 2016 as a guest speaker at the University of Oklahoma. Viviani said he didn’t know much about the state at that time, but there were some assets that caught his attention.
“It had a lot of young people and more people were moving there,” he said. “It’s very livable. Your money goes very far there. I like the ability to cater to young people to be at the forefront of a city that’s expanding.”
He became interested in exploring the region for a restaurant. Oklahoma City restaurateur and Chef Jonathon Stranger brought him into the scene with their Italian restaurant, Osteria, in Nichols Hills Plaza. Osteria opened in October and has offered only dinner service.
But the service is now expanding, with weekend brunch beginning Sunday and daily lunch starting Monday. The lunch menu will be about 20 percent of the dinner menu, Viviani said, but will also include sandwiches, smaller pizzas, and salads.
“We like to differentiate between lunch and dinner,” he said. “People who go out for lunch usually want something faster, lighter, and cheaper than dinner. We try to adapt our offering for the crowd that we’re catering for. We’re very good in differentiating our offering based on the time.”
Osteria boasts of offering authentic, Italian dishes, with some of Viviani’s own family recipes on the menu.
That won’t be the case with brunch, though, he said. Brunch is an American offering, so Osteria’s brunch menu will be an Italian or Mediterranean twist of American classics, he said.
No matter the time of day, Viviani said people go out to eat because they want the experience, and the customer feedback so far has been good.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “It’s all up and down. We make plenty of mistakes, but we fix them really fast. I got really lucky with good employees. I’m fortunate to work with educated people.”
Finding those employees was something that was more challenging in Oklahoma City than his other markets, he said. The industry is known for one eatery stealing staff members from another place. But Viviani said he tries not to do that; rather, he offers attractive incentives so people will want to come work for him.
He said he was providing insurance for his employees several years before it was federally mandated by the Affordable Care Act. In the restaurant industry, the turnover rate is about 50 percent, but his concepts have about a 17 percent turnover rate.
“When they do leave, it’s because they’ve done a great deal of learning and they want to move on to something else,” he said.
Viviani said as he’s traversed the country opening his restaurants, he’s learned that while everyone wants good food, good service, and a good atmosphere, he has to know what kind of food they want. Early in his career, he would give people what he thought they should have.
“It’s something we’ve messed up many times, so now we do our due diligence,” he said.
Viviani isn’t done in Oklahoma City. He and Stranger already have another concept in development.