Bianco 43: How the Greenwich pizza restaurant got through the coronavirus crisis

Bianco 43
Bianco 43 is now welcoming customers to dine in again

Bianco 43 is the brainchild of two passionate Italians, Massimo Parodi and Fabrizio Margarita who have two restaurants in Greenwich and Blackheath. Fabrizio worked at his father’s cheese factory supplying top restaurants around the world with buffalo mozzarella while Massimo came from a recruitment background.

“We gave the restaurant the name Bianco, meaning white in Italian to reflect the clean whitewashed interior to remind guests of a summery Italian city restaurant by the sea side. 43 is the address number of our first restaurant,” Massimo explained.

“We want to make you feel like are in Italy during your time spent in our restaurant.”

At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the Greenwich restaurant had to close but soon reopened for takeaway and was one of the few restaurants open for takeaway in the area during the early stages of lockdown, while it still provided deliveries for hungry locals.

For Massimo, the worst time was before lockdown – when their restaurants were still open but the government was advising people not to eat out. While their tables were empty, they still had to pay the full costs of running the business, plunging the future into uncertainty. “We were really shocked and left with not many viable options,” Massimo said.

Later, they were able to benefit from government initiatives, including furloughing most staff and deferring VAT payments for three months.

“This was better than nothing – in Italy the support from the government is zero for hospitality,” Massimo said.

Bianco 43 team
Before the crisis: Bianco 43’s general manager Stefano Maggi, owner Massimo Parodi and manager Alessandro “Saso” Balduzzi

Furloughing staff was a hard decision for Bianco 43 as the team are a tight unit. “Bianco 43’s staff are mostly made up of people that chose to live abroad and we support each other more like siblings than colleagues. When a team is related to each other in this way, is easy being welcoming and friendly to people and creating good vibes during this weird time.”

The menu was also cut back to reduce costs and focus on quality, while as friends and colleagues rallied round to help they also gave discounts to NHS staff and other key workers. Massimo said: “As a team we’ve been helping each other through this difficult time as we are all in the same boat.”

Suppliers provided extra support for Bianco 43 by being flexible on quantities and extending payment periods. And customers coming in for takeaways gave Massimo a boost too. “A lot of people come in for a takeaway and then take their pizza to the park or by the river for a picnic. The atmosphere is great and it always makes me smile to see people eating pizza from our Bianco 43 boxes.”

Bianco 43 reopened on 4 July for dining in. Social distancing measures in place include masks, increased cleaning of all surfaces, contactless payments as well as increased hygiene measures at the entrance, at the table and throughout the restaurant. Massimo said: “Our goal to make people feel safe in the restaurant. We would like you to enjoy your meal rather than have a quick pizza and go.”

The restaurant is now looking to the future. It prides itself in using higher-quality ingredients than nearby chain restaurants, and the team are coming up with new ideas for the autumn and beyond. Saso, the restaurant’s manager, said: “As we like saying, where you smell bread, call that place home – or Bianco 43.”

Bianco 43 can be found at 43 Greenwich Church Street SE10 9BL, and 1 Lee Road SE3 9RQ

This is one of a series of stories we are running on how people in SE London have responded to the coronavirus pandemic. Let us know if you have a story to tell.

MARK CAPTAIN is an editor and freelance journalist covering luxury, travel, health, culture and wellness stories

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