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Riccardo Giraudi: “I want to keep this creative spirit in everything I undertake”

ricardo-giraudi-monaco
© Adrien Daste

The founder of the famous Beefbar is about to open a 100% vegan restaurant.

The Beefbar, Song Qi, Moshi Moshi, Cantinetta Antinori, Tiny Thai, Mezze Kitchen… The names of these restaurants evoke so many different flavours and specialities that it’s hard to imagine they belong to the same group. And yet!

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These brands were all created under the leadership of Riccardo Giraudi, president of the eponymous group, which has been an institution in Monaco for 45 years. The family business was founded in 1968, specialising in the importation and distribution of meat in Europe, and now includes a catering arm.

The reason for this career choice was a single guiding principle: not to do things like everyone else. “I never really thought it through,” Riccardo says. “When I finished business school in London, all my friends were going to work in finance or banking. I had specialised in marketing, but I didn’t know what to do. And the only internship I could find was as an assistant in the first company to handle PR for restaurants. I thought I would try to “glamourise” restaurants like you would a fashion brand. I was in the right place at the right time: in London, at the height of an internet boom, and at a time when catering became a lifestyle thing. I learned the new luxury industry ‘codes’ there.”

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The first Beefbar restaurant was born to expand my business as a premium meat importer.

riccardo-giraudi-restaurant-monaco
© Adrien Daste

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Around forty restaurants around the world

And once back in Monaco, simply taking on the family business was out of the question. Buoyed by a decidedly creative spirit, Riccardo Giraudi wanted to launch his own concept: “I told my father: ‘Don’t worry, I will continue to do the meat job, but there’s also an opportunity to be grabbed.’ We have the best meat in the world, so let’s have the best meat restaurant in the world, and let’s do it with the codes I learned in London. The advantage with Monaco is that it is extremely cosmopolitan and at the time there was no competition. We had either family restaurants or Michelin starred establishments. I managed to create the Beefbar brand, and the first restaurant, in Fontvieille, was born to give expand my business as a premium meat importer.”

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The premises, founded in the early 2000s, has a steakhouse look to it. But again, Riccardo Giraudi wanted to look further ahead. He very quickly took on the restaurant market in the Principality, with an extremely wide range of offerings, and continued to export the Beefbar brand.

riccardo-giraudi-meat
© Adrien Daste

Twenty years later, with a dozen restaurants in the Principality, and some thirty establishments spread over the rest of the world, the gamble has, to say the least, paid off. At the same time, Riccardo Giraudi continues to distinguish himself in the premium meat import-export business.

But just what do we mean by “premium meat”? “It’s not just a question of price,” Riccardo Giraudi answers. “It is meat that comes from animals in the United States, Australia, and Japan, mainly Angus or Wagyu breeds. These are very sought-after breeds, which are fed on grain. It’s all about how the animal is fed. The more the animal is grain-fed, the more marbled the meat, so the more standardised the meat, the more tender it is and the more expensive it is. The secret of meat is consistency. In Europe, there are many breeds and crossbreeds. But for meat to be consistent, the animal must have the same genetics and must have eaten the same thing.”

A vegan restaurant in Monaco

This desire for excellence and quality has certainly helped to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on the company, as the pandemic slowed exports and led to the closure of restaurants: “In Monaco, things have picked back up again. But the big problem today, as everyone says, and I agree, is the lack of staff. It’s very difficult to recruit: people retrained when everything was shut down. I think that everyone will have to take a fresh look at themselves, employees, and bosses alike.”

But despite these recruitment difficulties, Riccardo is not putting the brakes on his projects, quite the contrary! Three new establishments are due to open soon. Beginning with “Le Leafbar”, scheduled for September. A restaurant that is… 100% vegan!

We shouldn’t go up against the vegan movement, we should embrace it, understand it.

A rather surprising choice at first glance for a meat specialist. But Riccardo Giraudi explains the concept quite simply: “We are in the process of identifying an enormous number of flexitarian products i.e., proper substitutes for real meat, made from mushrooms for example. I don’t think we should go up against the vegan movement, we should embrace it, understand it. Technology enables us to provide other alternatives. I’ve tasted vegan chicken fillets, made by French people, and I can assure you that even I, the big meat advocate, have never eaten anything so good in my life.”

SEE ALSO: Monegasque restaurateurs faced with labour shortages

Two other new premises are also on the table in the Principality: a high-end Italian restaurant on one side, and a Mediterranean restaurant on the other: “There isn’t a restaurant in Monaco that serves local specialities from Nice, Monaco or Provence, that are fresh, tasty and not heavy. You may say that there are plenty of luxury Italian restaurants, but in my group, there is room to create and export a new brand.“

Three projects in Monegasque territory, after careful consideration this time by Riccardo Giraudi, who usually has the habit of listening to his instinct and acting spontaneously. On the other hand, the roadmap will remain the same in one respect: “to keep this creative spirit in everything I undertake”. A recipe for success.