Published 5 May 2021
With 13 restaurants across three countries and five cities, this week we speak to co-founder of Big Mamma Group Victor Lugger. He tells us about how the company got started, new payment service Sunday, and his favourite pizza and pasta toppings.
Initially, when I was young, I wanted to be a corporate CEO, so after my studies I went on to business school. It took me three months to realise I would never be that, and I was probably not suited for the very long, corporate step-by-step career. It was way more exciting to take risks, be out of my comfort zone, innovate, and break rules – just like in cooking.
So me and Tigrane, who I met at business school, decided to launch Big Mamma. The Big Mamma name actually came from his wife, Erika. Following a pop-up in France, our first restaurant was East Mamma in Paris in 2015, since then we have opened 13 restaurants across three countries and five cities.
We have a lot of fun, and we move very fast – it is one big adventure for not only my team, but myself as well. We really have no regrets, we are living this story so fully, taking risks all the time.
We put a lot of trust and autonomy into our crazy passionate team. They are the ones who lead the restaurants daily, their care and pride is what makes every day a success.
We started adapting very quickly to offer click & collect from all our sites, and then behind the scenes working to create Napoli Gang. Delivery is not something I would have considered, but it has been an amazing journey. Our approach has definitely been shaped by the varying restrictions – such as currently in Paris we are closed but offering Napoli Gang delivery, in Madrid the restaurant is open and in London we have Napoli Gang and only the terrace at Circolo Popolare.
We have 2 trucks coming into the UK from Italy every week, so we had to restructure everything. Not only that, but we have had to work with our artisanal suppliers in Italy to make sure they prepare all their orders with the correct documents. It has certainly been a learning experience – in December we had 8 pallets of wine and 25 pallets of canned San Marzano tomatoes blocked in Italy!
Sunday is a new payment solution designed to be the fastest way in the world to pay in restaurants: under 10 seconds. We saw the opportunity to bring the payment process into the 21st century, to combat the millions of hours wasted daily waiting for the bill to be paid. Sunday is available in the Big Mamma groups restaurant’s globally, with Circolo Popolare and Gloria launching here in the UK. In addition to this, the payment solution will be implemented into thousands of restaurants.
The ultimate goal is to become the PayPal for bricks & mortar businesses, creating a seamless, simple and fast payment experience. We offer restaurateurs a more competitive payment solution compared to credit card companies alongside the opportunity to turn tables quicker, increase tips for waiters and spend more time on enhancing the customer experience rather than processing payments. Sunday aims to be recognised internationally as a quick & easy payment process no matter what restaurant you are in or language you speak.
Speaking as a restaurateur myself, I am always looking for ways to optimise the experience of my customers. From the reaction we have already received on implementing Sunday in restaurants worldwide, I think it is clear that operators are hungry for change and open to using new technology if it is going to have a meaningful benefit to their business and the customer.
A bad pizza is a BAD pizza – bad ingredients, bad mozzarella or emmental cheese, bad tomato, dry and sad. If you don’t want another bite at once, it is a bad pizza.
Margherita + spinach + ham. Don’t ask why.
My wife says : you can’t buy happiness but you can buy pasta, and it is almost the same. The most famous Italian recipes have 3 ingredients or less. They are the hardest to cook since they are so simple. It is all about the quality of ingredients and the execution. My personal favourite is garlic, provola, mascarpone. I ate that once in Trentino. The Neapolitans at Big Mamma think it is a disgrace.
Il Centro in Priocca d’alba with my wife. The best restaurant in the world. Middle of Piedmont. Michelin star restaurant with dishes for €12, 1000 bottles wine cellar, the most caring service ever. I adore this place.