When market forces don’t consume bad restaurants

Have you heard of the Vapiano Italian restaurant chain? Last Saturday, while trawling for a Sydney restaurant that didn’t cost a motza, I came across Vapiano Italian Restaurant. Vapiano has outlets in Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast, and a further google search revealed that there are 150 outlets worldwide. It was certainly well priced, conveniently located in the Grace Hotel in downtown Sydney and looked clean and fresh, if a little on the Ikea side.

The reviews on Eatability.com were mixed, particularly regarding the ordering system, which was a little difficult to understand online. Once we arrived everything became clear. The young Italian Stallion on the door insisted on giving us two cards, even though I told him my husband and I were dining together (imagine that!) He explained everyone must have their own card and they swipe it when they order from each counter. There was a salad bar, pasta bar, pizza bar …. you get the picture. It was self-service, he told us, and we could see the queues were not deep. So we decided to give it a go. Also it was 7.30pm on a murky looking evening, which threatened to storm so we weren’t in a position to trawl the streets of Sydney.

What the nice young man neglected to tell us was that if you lose your card then you have to pay $75! Apparently it is written on the back of the card, which is a little late once you’ve lost the card and were never warned in the first place and it’s dark and you have had a drink.

Anyway, thankfully we didn’t lose our card, especially after I just happened to ask the server at the drinks station what would happen if I lost my card.

The food was ok, and yes, I believe ok is the technical term. We had pizza and salad, and the salad was fresh and varied. The drinks were a little pricey, so it is easy to see where they make their money. That along with no waiters.

In the interests of balance, I’d say Vapiano does things to a pricepoint well, and if you don’t mind being your own waiter, and holding on tight to your card and it’s fine for large groups of individuals chowing down on a quick pizza before a show.

But overall, I’m not a fan and mostly because of the ordering system, which was clunky and outdated. And I hated that they didn’t explain the card and its consequences if lost properly.


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This is Vapiano London but they all look the same

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