Black and white. Earthy. Healthy. Lekker. For 25 years, Col’Cacchio has been the reason you crave pizza. Yeah, a quarter of a century and it’s been so much fun that the flight of time is almost unbelievable.
Having a great cup of coffee with CEO and co-founder Michael Terespolsky at their offices in Woodstock, the passion for the brand and the commitment to serving great food, is unmistakable. The entire back wall in the boardroom is floor-to-ceiling wallpaper of colourfully photographed Col’Cacchio food. Luckily it was behind me, as any effort in concentration would have been futile with such deliciousness staring at me like that.
In human years, at 25 years old you’re a young adult, but in restaurant years you’ve earned your stripes and a place as a mature force to be reckoned with. No surprise that innovation is one of the core visions of the firm – there are a lot of new things on offer, with the latest rebranding and a summer menu just rolled out nationally.
Not only is the summer menu an aesthetical wonder for your senses with its beautiful pastels, but the food is photographed in such an enthralling way that you’re spoiled for choice, wishing you were wearing your comfy pants, as things are about to get serious.
Dollops of ice cream with smears of caramel, super green leaves and oozing cheese: the freshness of the ingredients pops off the pages. But it’s not all about the looks, the new menu also introduces items never offered before, such as breakfast, wraps and steak.
As much as the brand and the expression thereof is great fun, the quality of the food is taken extremely seriously. The nutritional make-up of all the meals is expertly researched and tested by the University of Stellenbosch, nogal.
Michael explains that the way an ingredient is prepared changes its nutritional value. For instance, there is a marked difference between a raw, grilled or cooked tomato, and all these aspects must be explored and correctly represented.
“We make everything ourselves, from scratch; our tomato base, our wraps, all our sauces, and we even chop the garlic ourselves. The chocolate sauce is made from real chocolate and doesn’t come from a bottle,” says Michael. “Everything is made with care and quality, for instance the meat on the Smoky Babe pizza is slow cooked for 16 hours.”
Some of this might seem overwhelming, but the beauty of the food is its juxtaposition with simplicity. On your plate, it’s just unpretentious and comfortable.
Another great aspect of the menu is its variety in catering for diverse diets and preferences. Take the vegetarian Green Genie pizza, which is a complete overload of veggie goodness with avo, feta, roasted beetroot, roasted butternut, pumpkin seeds, shiitake mushrooms and more. With loads of leaves. Yum!
It’s this commitment to provide relaxed food in a warm and welcoming environment, at the highest quality, that has seen the group through the test of time. That, and the continuous striving to renew, keep it real and fresh, by consistently thinking differently.
The very first store opened in 1992 in Cape Town’s Foreshore, on the ground floor of what used to be the Spearhead building opposite Investec. Today, there are currently 34 stores across the country and one in Windhoek, the majority of which are owned by franchisees.
The most recently opened stores are situated in The Paddocks Centre in Milnerton and in the V&A Waterfront on the upper level facing Robben Island.
“We were in discussions for many years with the V&A Waterfront’s management regarding the brand opening in the precinct, but there was never a position that we were completely comfortable with. It was vital for us to be inside the mall and we are very happy with the place that eventually became available,” Michael shares.
With the entire one side of the shop opening onto a balcony overlooking the ocean, the store’s front door just beyond the entrance into the mall, the layout and shape lends itself to unique expressions of design.
“We decided that this store will receive a completely different, sophisticated and exclusive look, specially designed for the V&A,” says Michael.
Many of the warm colours which are present in the current corporate identity were reproduced in various facets, such as a wood-cladded wall draped with plants, gorgeous bronze light fittings, oxblood-coloured booth seats and warm accents in the flooring and ceilings.
The iconic black of the branding is introduced in the floor tiling pattern, the subway tiles on some of the walls and in various smaller details such as the black hanging rods for the shelving.
Other new and unique concepts were introduced such as a Grab & Go at the entrance and a Fresh Pasta room where you can witness the process of the pasta being made in real time.
A retro u-shaped bar area looks out over the balcony, and you can just imagine the buzzing vibe we’ll see at the height of the upcoming summer holiday season.
Even though there is so much to see and experience, your eye cannot help but gravitate towards the outside wall of the pizza oven, which has been glamorously clad with gold-coloured mosaic. With the fire burning inside, the glittering wall is the ultimate homage to the pizza.
“That is exactly what we wanted to create”, says Michael, “we’re now looking at rolling out this concept to our other outlets with each oven being unique with the choice of mosaic adornment.”
Michael explains that one of the most important aspects of the overall interior design across all outlets, is to allow customers to feel comfortable while enjoying comfort food. By creating a variety of seating like booths, loose tables of varying sizes, and interesting corners and quiet spaces, people are set more at ease than having a large open area filled with tables. An eatery is a pause space, a place where you can replenish your energy, meet up and socialize, and it’s important that the environment for this is created foremost in the design.
This V&A Waterfront store is owned by a franchisee, and Col’Cacchio is a great success story of how a closely-knit franchisor/franchisee relationship pays huge dividends.
“We visit our stores two to three times a week to ensure that our owners are given the highest level of support,” Michael says.
The secret to any brand with multiple outlets is that it must speak the same language, have the same level of customer care and deliver the same quality product across the board, as that is what the customer is expecting. Col’Cacchio is as serious about training, upskilling and motivating their staff and owners, as it is about its food.
Another area where the brand is serious but is also having great fun, is its marketing. “It’s a must to be creative in our marketing and to think smart without breaking the bank”.
With a big focus on attracting new markets while rewarding existing, loyal customers, the launch of Col’Cacchio’s loyalty app where you earn pizza slices with every purchase, has been a huge success, as have partnerships with brands such as Vodacom and Discovery Health.
If you’re not a completely smitten fan yet of Col’Cacchio’s large salads, pizzas that are healthy (seriously!), with a stylish yet relaxed atmosphere, you had better get with the times. They’re the reason why I crave pizza for sure!
I cannot wait to sip a cold drink while nibbling on a half-and-half pizza, overlooking the ocean on the balcony of the V&A Waterfront outlet. See you there!
Copyright © 2017 by Natalie du Preez.
This article was written and compiled by Natalie du Preez with input and quotes from Col’Cacchio, which is property of the author, all rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be copied, shared or reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the owner.