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Will Thompson on Vivo and the rise of all-day dining

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Will Thompson founded all-day Italian concept Vivo with his brother Ben.
Will Thompson founded all-day Italian concept Vivo with his brother Ben.

Related tags: Restaurant

Will Thompson opened Italian café and bar Vivo on Islington's Upper Street with his brother Ben. He talks to BigHospitality about Italian food culture, the rise of all-day dining in London, and how restaurants can benefit from a more casual approach.

Tell us more about the concept behind Vivo...

Vivo is an Italian concept which we came up with after three years or more of research going backwards and forwards to Italy, where we found that the emphasis is that you can get whatever you want at any time of day or night- whether it is a grappa at 11am or a pizza at 11pm.

We thought it was surprising that in London, which is such a cosmopolitan city, you didn’t have many options to do that, particularly three years ago. Even now we find that even on Upper Street, which is a pretty vibrant place, places go quiet later on in the evening.

Our customers are often surprised that we are still open and serving at 11pm. It is a very Italian thing but I think it is fantastic and that to limit people to eating at certain times of day is just not something we should do.

What is behind the rise in demand for all-day dining?

All-day dining is very trendy at the moment which I think makes it very attractive. We have just come out of a major recession and people have moved away from having sit-down three course meals in the evening. They still want to enjoy a night out but they want to do it in a more cost effective way, and pick and choose rather than having to spend £50 a head.

I also think with today’s hectic lifestyle people are working long hours and they tend to grab a bite to eat whenever they can. That social event where people go out on a Saturday night and spend two hours in a restaurant just doesn’t seem to happen anymore.

Why is all-day dining good for business?

Rents and rates are so high in London that you need to maximise what you are doing during the day. By promoting things like breakfast and afternoon tea in addition to your lunch and dinner service you have most of the day covered. You can also tap into the growing demand for after work drinks and snacks - known as ‘aperitivo’ in Italy and very popular in all the major Italian cities. There are so many opportunities to eat and drink in London that it would be a shame not to encompass them all in one place.

How do you think London’s restaurant scene will continue to change over next couple of years?

I can see only further emphasis on casual dining, especially given the quality of casual dining establishments opening in London. With people coming to the city from all over the world and bringing influences such as aperitivo I can’t see all-day casual dining being diminished in London.

What are the latest developments at Vivo?

We have a great outdoor terrace which we opened in the Spring and has been really popular over the summer. Because it is covered and heated it is not something that can just be enjoyed in the summer and we are currently finalising arrangements to have a special marquee covering for it in winter periods so we can maximise space and use it for winter parties.

We are always working on new products for our counter. Our salad section is extremely popular and attracts a lot of interest, we have expanded that recently and we are looking to expand that again.

We are also just about to bring out a new drinks menu. We have two fantastic bar tenders on our books and we want to expand our aperetivo after work drinks offering.

Any plans to roll the Vivo concept out and open more sites?

It is something we would love to do and we always have at the back of our heads, but we are only 11 months old so at the moment we are fully focused on developing Vivo Upper Street. Ben and I are very hands on – one of us is always in the building – so we really get involved in every aspect of the business.

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