The (successful) challenge of a business which has decided not to limit itself to the summer season alone

The (successful) challenge of a business which has decided not to limit itself to the summer season alone


With Carlo Cangiano of the restaurant “La Tablita”, we discover what it means to run a restaurant in Anacapri which stays open all winter long


Can you meet the challenge of running a business in a seaside resort by keeping it open all year round? There are those who say they can, and, by putting their skills and passion into play, demonstrate that this is a goal which is not only achievable, but which can bring great satisfaction.

We interviewed Carlo Cangiano, manager of “La Tablita” restaurant, who told us how, thanks to a new vision, he transformed a pub into a place that deals with gastronomy at 360°, aiming in particular at the target of the local population in order to stay in business even in winter.


Let’s talk about La Tablita; when did the idea come to start this adventure?


“I took over this place in 2011, so it’s been in business for 10 years now; before it was a pub, but it had already been closed for a few years. I immediately believed in this place, and above all I recognized its great potential: the first thing I did when I took over was to remove video poker and pool tables, because I had a different vision from what it had been up to that moment. I started together with a partner, but after three years I continued on my own; I think anyone else would have given up, but I continued to believe in it. The restart also involved a renovation of the premises: I tried to make it as welcoming and airtight as possible, so that I could work 12 months a year, except for the two weeks of vacation that I allow myself. This renovation project, which came six years after I started managing the restaurant, was also supported by the owner of the building.


What does the restaurant look like now?


“It is a single room, a large environment with a corner bar deliberately positioned adjacent to the road, so that in summer it is also visible from outside. Right from the start I tried to do catering as well, adding to the menu of sandwiches a discreet offer of first and second courses. I had surrounded myself with a very good team in the kitchen, so it seemed normal to me to want to do something more. At the beginning it was not easy to remove the label of sandwich shop, but over time the trend has changed, and now we can say that we are 98% restaurant and 2% sandwich shop. However, this aspect remains, partly because I don’t want to abandon “the origins”, and partly because, thinking of various target customers, such as families, I believe it is right to offer an offer as varied as possible.


What are the balances of this summer’s activities?


“This summer has gone beyond expectations, after a year and a half full of uncertainty and precariousness. Now we’re starting to work well, with a different perception; however, in general, I’m not very interested in numbers; what counts for me is working as well as possible.”


I know there have been changes in the kitchen….


“The new chef Salvatore de Martino was the new entry in our kitchen, and he now works alongside chef Alfonso Mastellone. In the menu of the day we offer 5/6 appetizers, 3/4 first courses, the catch of the day, second courses of fish in a crust with potatoes or zucchini… there is a lot of work behind and the extra gear has definitely been the greater processing of the product, in a way that customers really like.”

How are you close to vegetarian or vegan customers with your menu?


“In the menu there is a sandwich dedicated just to them, with seitan burgers; we then have a varied offer of vegetable dishes, both cooked and raw, salads and much more.”


Right from the start, your goal was to open a restaurant that would also be a meeting point where you could spend pleasant evenings with friends.


“Yes, I have always organized something, also because, in order to be able to keep the restaurant open all year round, it is necessary to propose a diversified offer. There were theme evenings, with dishes different from those traditionally on the menu, or with live music, a great passion of mine. I always organized nice evenings that were successful, with the right frequency so that I could prepare them at best”.


Keeping the business open for 12 months is certainly a courageous choice, for which it certainly counted a lot to establish a good relationship with the island’s clientele…


“The island clientele is what allows you to keep open year-round. In the summer, tourists are definitely an extra push that you need, but we’ve always focused on the local clientele first. This obviously opens up new challenges, because it’s necessary to offer high quality and keep it constant over time, just as it’s fundamental to treat the clientele in the best possible way to keep them coming back. On the other hand, I think it’s much more stimulating: it’s easier to work with those who are just passing through Capri, the difficult thing is to aim for loyalty. In addition, being open all year round allows you to focus on winter events: in 2019 we even managed to organize a New Year’s Eve dinner on Anacapri… something that hadn’t been done for years, but I wasn’t afraid to take risks, and it was a success, with an excellent response from the islanders.


Your place is always full of new things; would you like to tell us something about your future plans?


In a few weeks we will organize an evening “Oktoberfest”, it will be the third edition. For the occasion we are presenting a very “deutsch” menu: pork knuckle, sauerkraut, German beers, theme music… it’s an evening that has always gone very well, we have fun and someone even comes dressed as a Bavarian! After two years of stop it is an event that we look forward to with enthusiasm”.

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