Italian is a glorious language; irrepressibly expressive and exotic, lending glamour to words that have no right to expect it. Amongst those who used to patronise restaurants (remember those?) in the Prezzo chain of Italian eating-houses how many knew that its name means ‘price’ in its mother tongue. Could we Brits get away with calling a restaurant ‘Cost’ and expect diners to queue around the corner to get at some pasta and a thin crust pizza?
A slight diversion invites us to make mention of our favourite ‘Price’. Vincent Price, American cult horror film actor with the voice emanating from a gravelly cave, was famous for many things, but probably best remembered for voicing the spooky spoken lines from Michael Jackson’s single Thriller, the album of the same name reputedly selling more than 100 million copies.
“The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzy ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller..."
Back to ‘Price’, the troubled restaurant chain. It was announced yesterday (Thursday 11 February) that it will permanently close 22 restaurants after being bought out of pre-pack Administration by private equity firm Cain International.
As a result of the deal, the aforementioned 22 of the high street staple’s 178 restaurants will not reopen. Cain said that 216 of its 2,900 jobs would be lost. In amongst the fluff of the reports was a statement made by a spokesperson for the group, that Price wanted to become the pre-eminent Italian restaurant in the UK. Despite closing outlets there is a better chance that this could happen as it is of the last ones standing, as the sword of Covid has slashed through its compatriot rivals.
The pre-pack came as landlords failed to agree on a compromise lease deal as advisors from FTI Consulting fought their way through a menu, including a rather uninspiring spaghetti with meatballs, vesuvio pizza and home fries.
It is all a little dull and not-at-all market leading. We in the NTI newsroom think that price has better live up to its name at the lower end of the scale to survive more redundancies.