Lucciano’s, gelato born in Argentina
When it all started, in 2011, Instagram was starting to take its first steps and grabbing the attention of the younger audience, "we were essentially seeking free advertising" thanks to customer posts. Then the business grew, becoming over time a true empire of international gelato, a business born in Buenos Aires, then landed in the States and then last spring, in Rome. Gelato on a stick in the shape of a Colosseum, perfect Instagram material. Designer decor, informal but impeccable service, convivial atmosphere, simple, pop language, youthful, fun: here is Lucciano's, the company of Daniele and Christian Otero, Argentine father and son with Italian blood, just like their business, "we are a gelateria born in Argentina, but the heart, the essence is made in Italy," says Christian, a young entrepreneur today managing 60 branches (55 are in South America), many projects for the future, "Rome is just the beginning" with a total of more than 700 employees.
Lucciano's in Rome
Let's go back and start from the last leg of the journey, the most significant and the not at all obvious success. Not if you choose to open in the homeland of gelato, a country that can count many quality brands and that has been educational in the realm of ice cream. Yet, behind the format - already known by many thanks to the international success and the great marketing work behind Lucciano's, "is a very solid team, indispensable for a business like ours" - which was successful from the onset. Not that the owners didn't expect it, "in short, we have been a well-established company for some time, we know how to perform. Of course, in Italy gelato is a serious matter and the competition is very high, but ours is a completely different format, which was still missing."
The central location, a few steps from the Trevi Fountain, is strategic, there are many tourists, yet this is not the key to the success of the business. "In reality, it is a mix of factors: the customer experience is different but the design is also of great value. Each Lucciano's branch is different from the other, it becomes a fun place for consumers, who can take pictures, share them, spend time with friends and relatives sitting at tables, instead of eating portable gelato as they normally do." Plus the ingredients, "the fact that it is a chain with large numbers does not mean that there is less attention to quality, quite the opposite. Precisely because we are a solid company we can afford to contact more expensive suppliers: our products are all Italian, for the opening in Rome we focused on high-level realities and every year we participate in the Sigep trade fair in Rimini to stay up to date on industry news." A lot of design, therefore, a lot of style but also research and attention at the core.
The price of the gelato
The prices of Lucciano's? Different to those we are used to in Italy. But is it right to pay a little for an artisan cone? "For me, the prices here are too low. Rents are skyrocketing, the cost of ingredients is rising, then there's production costs, as well as the staff." The prices of the Rome branch, however, are lower than the ones in the United States: the famous icepops, popsicles and ice cream on a stick with characteristic shapes and bright colours, range from €3.80 to €5.50, "while in America they start from $8 and up." The most requested? The one created specifically for the Rome opening, in the shape of the Colosseum, and then the pistachio ice cream "but the dulce de leche, the only Argentine flavour among our products, is also very popular." And Rome is only the first stage of an expansion plan at European level, "we also opened in Barcelona and we are about to inaugurate in Malaga, but we are already thinking of Milan and Florence, as well as a second branch in Rome and one in London."
The origins of Lucciano’s
Meanwhile, in Argentina, the situation has changed since the first Otero project came to life in 2011, "others have begun to invest in design branches and in marketing. In short, we look to the future more and do the maths better." And as always happens when a format works, someone has also tried to imitate the products, "but this is a good sign, it makes me happy." Eleven years ago, however, the situation was quite different: "the gelaterias were mostly small, managed by a single person, sometimes there were some niche brands but most of them made industrial products." There was, therefore, the necessary space to welcome a novelty like Lucciano's, "between chains and microscopic shops, we tried to take our place, with the aim of evolving the ice cream sector, just as it was happening in the restaurant world." Speaking of restaurants: the company doesn't work much with dining establishments, "we are in contact with a couple of restaurateurs but that's not our main goal. Even though restaurants often offer high quality food and wine but low quality gelato…" From that first location in Buenos Aires, with gelato sold by weight and a few flavours, we arrived at the line of icepops, gelato on a stick and with particular shapes like Minions (paying Universal Pictures due rights). Up to creating a franchise, with irony but above all with great entrepreneurial ability. The future of Lucciano's? "We will never stop, now we focus on future openings."
Lucciano’s Roma – via delle Muratte, 76 - luccianos.net/it/
by Michela Becchi