By Gloria Hong

Yesterday, word came out that Jamie Oliver will be launching a new upscale casual chain restaurant in Toronto at Yorkdale Mall. Jamie’s Italian focuses on traditional Italian plates made with the best quality, freshest ingredients. So the question is – will he succeed? Let’s think about it.

Why it might fail:

  • The upscale casual restaurant market is not growing. In order to succeed, Jamie’s Italian will have to steal share from other chain restaurants like Joeys, Moxie’s and Milestones, which are already established at Yorkdale Mall.
  • Toronto has successful competitors in the Italian Category including Scaddabush – a chain owned by Sir Corp. They understand how to run a great restaurant and also a bar, amping up the music and lighting through the night, which packs in a younger demographic.
  • To many, Italian food means comforting carbs and rich sauces with lots of cheese. Is there a place for “Healthy Italian”?
  • Jamie Oliver’s name will get them through the door. But will they keep coming back?

Why it might be a success:

  • Jamie Oliver’s restaurant credentials are solid. With 35 locations in the UK, Australia, Ireland, Hong Kong and Singapore, he has a vision brand that works customizing menus and ingredients to each region.
  • The mall location is a great way to break into the market. Not only will they get destination diners, but also mall traffic and convenience diners.
  • Also, opening in a mall is directly on his brand strategy of bringing healthy food to the masses. Where his “Food Revolution” in US schools was a total clusterf*ck, a restaurant approach might be more aligned with what the mainstream is ready to accept.
  • Jamie’s food tastes good. I had the opportunity to dine in one of his London resto’s last year and I have to say, the food was tasty.

As a bonus, here are some tips for success from our Shopper Marketing expert Cyndi Pyburn:

  • Within a mall, real estate is critical. A poor location in a mall can kill you.
  • Great exposure (not tucked away) and good access to late night parking are key.
  • Also, the ability to “Stand Out” on both the street and in the mall is crucial.

So Jamie, will you succeed? You’ve got a lot going for you, so my money is on yes.

Good Luck!