We met Mario, owner of one of the ten Luigia restaurants.
For over 12 years, Luigia restaurants have been committed to controlling their ecological impact in various ways.
We had the opportunity to meet with Mario to hear about his experience.
Translated from French.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words? What is your role?
I have been working at Luigia for 10 years. I started as a waiter 10 years ago and now I own an establishment here in Nyon. I am a partner. I have a good career at Luigia. If I had to describe my career in a few words: it’s a journey of growth.
How would you sum up the Luigia company?
It all started in Geneva. Now, we are mainly present in French-speaking Switzerland. From Lausanne to Zurich. We will soon open our second location in Zurich, during the summer.
The word that represents Luigia is the word “Family”. When you enter Luigia, the goal is to know the meaning of the word “Family”. 99% of our staff is Italian. They are people full of good intentions and desire who have left Italy to live an experience.
What difficulties and challenges do you encounter in the management of the restaurant?
My difficulties are those of daily life. They are not really difficulties.
Our reality is that we are open 365 days a year. And sometimes we have problems with the maintenance of the machines and suppliers. These worries are easily mastered thanks to our experience. We have all the background now because of our experience.
Our worries can’t be planned. Many of the contractors we work with don’t have the speed required, the spirit to be quickly efficient at our side.
Here’s an example: my cooler motor breaks down. All my drinks are blocked. I can’t provide any more drinks, not even water, except hot. If this kind of problem happens, and Drinkotec can’t help me very quickly, I will have a very big problem at the time of service to satisfy thirsty customers.
How did you hear about Drinkotec? Were the systems already present when you arrived?
Yes, because the first system was installed in Lachenal on August 1, 2010, 12 years ago. The opening of the restaurant was done with the Drinkotec system.
Then you trusted us for all your restaurants.
Yes, that’s right, Zurich was the last restaurant to open, 3 years ago.
You are equipped with Drinkotec for the filtered water that you serve to your customers as well as the entire refrigeration part of the cellar. We also maintain the beer lines and the filtered water system, right?
That’s right. I just changed the cellar because we did an upgrade for cleaning last year. I changed everything on the advice of Manu [Emmanuel Etienne, Technical Team Manager at Drinkotec*]. Our waiters are really happy with the change during the monthly cleanups because we now save time at each cleanup, twice a month. And Drinkotec comes in periodically to change the filters.
Up until 2020, it was a disaster for the cellar because it was not ideally located. We had problems from the beginning. The space for the cellar is very small. We had to find spaces that did not exist. 3-4 times a year I needed someone from Drinkotec because the engine was old.
The lack of ventilation due to its location under the window was causing breakdowns.
In the summer of 2019, we had a disaster. We had to block the beer for 2 days because the engine was heating up and not cooling down anymore.
During a meeting with Mr. Flegbo [Franck-Eric Flegbo, CEO at Drinkotec*], he proposed a new version of the engine. According to him, it was the solution to all my problems… And apparently he was right because we have no more problems since then, while the location has remained the same. We spent money but we have no more problems during the service.
Do you have any idea how much time and money were saved by installing the filtered water system and upgrading the cellar? Do you consider the investment profitable?
Yes, it is profitable but I can’t quantify it.
It’s difficult to explain to people about water. It is important to have both aspects: we save on the long term, but we also save on the environmental impact which is important for us.
The short-term impact is for the customer because, when he stops to read our poster, he understands our commitment whereas at first glance, he will not necessarily agree to pay for water from the network. Moreover, in Geneva, at the beginning, we had a lot of problems with this bias because people didn’t understand.
You were pioneers, among the first to make this commitment. Today, it is becoming more democratic, but many restaurants are still using the bottle.
Absolutely, we were pioneers and now we continue with the same policy.
We no longer have a paper menu. The menu is read with QR codes. And if you don’t have a mobile phone, we have tablets available. This allows us to save ecologically. Our goal is to commit to the environment.
We now have many establishments, almost 10 and our impact is not negligible. If we don’t do something about it, the ecological impact of our industry would be significant. We make a minimum of 100 bottles of water per day, per location. If we used plastic or glass bottles, the CO2 emissions would be significant. We have chosen a sustainable business because today I think it is the secret to perpetuate a business.
Customers appreciate our commitment.
In terms of ecology, do you have other actions planned?
Yes, we do. We are increasing our efforts on waste treatment. We have started at the “Luigia Academy”. We are doing special treatments on the whole waste department.
Can you tell us more about the Luigia Academy?
The Luigia academy is divided into two parts: a Restaurant part and an Academy part where we give cooking classes to anyone who wants to discover Italian cuisine.
We are planning to create a school for future Luigia employees. This will be like a small introduction before really entering the Luigia world.
This is where we started a cyclic economy: food is transformed into waste that is then reused for planting, as fertilizer. We even have a small vegetable garden where we use the ingredients for our cooking.
All our changes are gradual because people are used to certain things.
As soon as we tried to change something, like switching from the mass market products to something more organic, people were suspicious. But once they try it, they understand that the change is an improvement.
So, the impact on customers is beneficial on the subject of water?
Yes, 1 in 100 people still have a problem. But as soon as they see the explanatory poster, they understand the environmental commitment.
At the Academy, we even created a system to recover coffee funds. Our dream is to have zero environmental impact. Reducing our impact on the environment is a goal we have set for ourselves as a company. I have a 2 years old son and I want him to grow up in a liveable world.
Are your teams comfortable with the Drinkotec installations?
For the water, it’s very simple.
And for the cellar, the Drinkotec team explained to us the important points to monitor, how to react according to the different signals. The training was done within an hour after the installation. The use of the rest did not change.
I am now satisfied with our Drinkotec equipment.
Can you tell us about your collaboration with Drinkotec?
I speak for myself, for Nyon, I have no worries. I am in direct contact with Mr. Flegbo and Manu. 80% of the interventions are taken care of by Manu.
The secret to having good relationships is that your contact persons are the same. We have to be “interfaced”.
Last question, would you recommend Drinkotec products to other restaurateurs?
Yes, I have already recommended the Drinkotec installation to several people.
Let’s be clear, if we spend money it is to get results.
If I spend money and I am satisfied, if the service is qualitative, if I am followed up in case of problems, if I am helped quickly: why would I not recommend you?
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