Licensee Interview: Giovanna Eusebi

May 1st, 2017 | Posted in:

EUSEBI IS ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL RESTAURANTS IN GLASGOW’S WEST END. SUSAN YOUNG CAUGHT UP WITH THE OWNER.

Our interviewee this month is Giovanna Eusebi who owns the thriving Eusebi Deli and Restaurant in Glasgow’s West End. Now, I have a confession to make here – my mother is one of Eusebi’s biggest fans… from popping in for a glass of wine, to strolling down for breakfast, and to eyeing up the truffles and freshly baked breads…there is hardly a week that goes by that she is not extolling its virtues.

Of course, I too have eaten there on numerous occasions, and usually Giovanna has been there. In fact when I caught up with her on a sunny Monday morning, she told me that the recent Mother’s Day weekend had been so busy that she and Manager Michael had done about 50 hours each – so understandably she was in need of an espresso.

But how nice was it to sit outside, enjoying the sunshine and talking about her passion – which is food! It has been her life since she was born, having come from a family that has always celebrated great food. Giovanna tells me, “Food has been the very fabric of my life.”

Her family are from the Castleforte region of Italy and her grandparents were, “old fashioned peasant farmers.” She explains, “In these days there were no clocks and my grandparents planted their produce and harvested it according to the four seasons. For them it was all about sustainability. For instance they would raise a pig, kill it, salt it and use every bit of it. That was just the way it was.”

Her mother came to Scotland in 1959 after meeting her father who was on holiday in Italy. But over the course of her early years, her mother had lived in San Paulo and then in Lyon, France. In fact Giovanna’s aunts stayed there. Says Giovanna, “This means that I learned not just about Italian food, but about French food too.”

On her father’s side, her grandparents came to Scotland in 1910 and had owned an ice-cream shop in Partick called the Rendevous Cafe but Giovanna’s dad took his own route and opened a fruit and Italian grocery shop in the East End of Glasgow at Shettleston. Says Giovanna, “My dad lived across the road from the shop, which was a single-end, but even then my family were a bit different. For instance despite the fact we lived in suburbia my dad kept chickens! When we used to go for day trips we would go to Lanark and my mum and gran were always leaping out to pick dandelions and turnip tops for us to eat, and my mum used to prepare lunch boxes for us to take to school which had such exotic items as pasta. I used to long for a straightforward ham sandwich because we used to get teased at school!

“Meanwhile Eusebi Deli sold things like exotic peppers and mushrooms, Marzano tomatoes and olive oils – they were definitely not normal fare at the time! As the business grew my mum realised that there was an opportunity when it came to preparing food for people – it was at the time people were cooking less. She would cook Italian pasta meals for them to take home. It was early day ‘convenience food’ but it was good food, driven by the seasons.”

She continues, “They had learned this from my grand parents who because they came from farming stock always looked forward to the changing seasons. For them everything revolved around the land. There was a Bean Festival, a Chestnut Festival, in the summer it was tomatoes and grapes and fiestas outside. I wanted to do that here. When we change our menu in the Spring, I give my customers a wee taster plate of broad beans and some Pecorino Romano, a hard, salty Italian cheese which is the first cheese of the Spring. It’s our wee welcome to the season.”

Before going to work with her dad 15 years ago, Giovanna went to University, at first in Edinburgh, but she finished her university education at Strathclyde University where she did Marketing and Languages. She then spent 10 years working with British Airways and travelled all over the world. She says, “I supposed I have stored away all the memories of these places but I also learned about service, and that ethos has never left me.”

When Giovanna went to work with her father at Eusebi’s in Shettleston, she flourished. Says Giovanna, “My father was a great man. I worked with him every day and he and the rest of family were my mentors. He was a beautiful cook, and very, very supportive of us all. I have two brothers – Eddie, my partner in the business, and another brother Enrico. My dad used to say how lucky he was to have such a lovely family. There has always been a lot of love around me, and my life has been defined by love, not money.”

She continues, “I’m creative, emotional and passionate. Food for me is symbolic and it reminds me of emotional times in my life. For instance, my dad used to make a great, but simple sugo, and I used to freeze it. After he died, really unexpectedly, I still had some of the sugo he had cooked but when I used it I knew it would be the last time I every tasted something he had cooked. It was bittersweet.”

Her father died, 10 years ago, about the same time they got the Park Road premises that now houses Eusebi, but it took the family until 2015 to open. Says Giovanna, “It just wasn’t meant to be for a while – we had to get planning, the recession hit, and I wasn’t in a good place to start something new. But when we did get to it, I knew that I wanted a place that took our customers away from touristy Italy because I wanted to show people how diverse Italian food was – from the North to the South, from the mountains to the pastures. Everything changes and I want that to be reflected in the menu.”

She continues, “Before we opened, I sent my chefs to Rome so that they would get a benchmark of Italian flavour, and in fact they will go back to Italy in May to continue their journey. We are all on a journey, I take training very seriously. I want excellence. I do have 40 staff, and I am hands on, but I do delegate. Everything that you see at the deli counter has been developed and approved. As far as I am concerned the devil is in the detail. We have a great time, and team work certainly makes the dream work!”

When it comes to the food that Eusebi sells Giovanna is very particular and imports much of it from Italy herself – from the Olive oil to the Calabrian tomatoes. She says, “I am all about authenticity. The providence of food is very important. However, my dad taught me that it is just as important how you make people feel. He knew the names of his customers, their birthdays, their stories. Every customer is on a journey and really it’s all about how your last customer feels, when they leave. “We may be casual dining but I don’t believe in casual service. I’ll even send someone home if their shirt isn’t ironed.

We do intensive training, and all my staff should be able to tell you everything about the food they are serving. I’m also still learning. In fact last year I went to Lausanne on a HIT (Hospitality Industry Trust) Scholarship. It was life changing. Knowing that this was the very best school in Europe, and knowing that our teachers were masters of excellence, made a huge impression. You can feed off their energy and that made me want to up my game. I’ve always liked to punch above my weight and this course reinforced it. I would recommend it to anyone.”

She concludes, “This is not really ‘my shop’. It is a business that has been made out of love, hard work and sacrifice. In fact the pictures in Eusebi tell the story – they are authentic photographs of my family. And I appreciate them every day. My mother is amazing, and my brothers are too. That’s not to say that we don’t argue, we do, but we all want the very best for each other. I also want the very best for my staff – I want to teach them, I want them to grow. When someone comes for an interview and says that they one day want to have their own place, I know they will fit in at Eusebi! I am a sharer and I don’t mind sharing what we have. Because no one can copy my passion or the shop’s DNA.”

She is certainly right there!


Mitchells & Butlers’ shares surge on higher sales

Thu 23rd May 2019

Shares in Mitchells & Butlers have jumped more than 9% after the company reported higher comparable sales and profit for the first-half ... Read more.

The Macallan Distillery picks up another major industry award

Thu 23rd May 2019

The Macallan Distillery has received a recognition from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Scotland. ... Read more.

Wagamama acquisition helps surge in sales at the start of 2019 for owners The Restaurant Group

Thu 23rd May 2019

The Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito, has reported a surge in sales at the start of 2019, helped by its acquisit... Read more.

Hello Bo & Birdy

Wed 22nd May 2019

Bo & Birdy. That’s the name of The Blythswood Hotel’s new £1m 146-cover bar and restaurant that re-opens this month after being closed... Read more.

Single-Use Cutlery and Straws made from the humble avocado stone are a reality

Wed 22nd May 2019

As the UK government announces new controls on plastic items to come into force in England by April 2020, with Scotland also taking steps to... Read more.

Trade body calls for action to tackle mental health issues

Wed 22nd May 2019

Fresh on the back of UK mental health awareness week ( 13-19 May 2019), more needs to be done to tackle mental health issues in the sector, ... Read more.

Borthwick Castle’s head chef to champion Scotland in National Chef of the Year

Tue 21st May 2019

Derek Johnstone, Head Chef at Borthwick Castle in Midlothian, is the only Scottish chef to have reached the semi-finals of this year's Natio... Read more.

DOUNE CASTLE IN STIRLING RENAMED TO CELEBRATE LEGACY OF GAME OF THRONES

Tue 21st May 2019

Pubs in Stirlingshire may get a boost from an influx of Game of Thrones fans making pilgrimages to the area.... Read more.

Plans submitted to re-open Glasgow’s Cabin restaurant

Tue 21st May 2019

Plans have been submitted with Glasgow City Council to re-open the Cabin restaurant on Dumbarton Road in the Whiteinch area of the city. It ... Read more.

Bloc+ pops up on former Nonya site

Mon 20th May 2019

Bloc pop-ups on former Nonya site John Burns, owner of Bloc+ on Bath Street in Glasgow has opened a Bloc pop-up on the site of the former N... Read more.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opens new McQueen Gin distillery

Mon 20th May 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has officially opened McQueen Gin's brand-new 6,200²ft distillery in Callander. ... Read more.

WINE AND TEA BAR OPENS

Mon 20th May 2019

The Chaumer is a recently opened teahouse and wine bar for Edinburgh’s Queen Street – with a very interesting back story. ... Read more.

New owners at Braeval Hotel

Thu 16th May 2019

Paul and Lyndy Geddes have taken over the Braeval Hotel and Bandstand Bar and Restaurant in Nairn. Lyndy was previously a director in an omb... Read more.

Max McFarlane joins the Ardgowan Distillery team

Thu 16th May 2019

Whisky maker Max McFarlane has joined the Ardgowan Distillery team – with a plan to create and release a new series of whiskies later thi... Read more.

McEwan’s Lager relaunches

Wed 15th May 2019

The new look McEwan’s Lager launches in on-trade this month.... Read more.

Today’s your last chance to enter the Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt 105’ Cask Strength Cocktail Competition!

Wed 15th May 2019

Today’s the cut-off for entering the Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt ‘105’ Cask Strength Cocktail Competition – so get your... Read more.

Brand News: Avva Scottish Gin

Wed 15th May 2019

CASK FINISH GIN FROM AVVA SCOTTISH GIN AVAILABLE TO TRADE CUSTOMERS FOR THE FIRST TIME The latest release of Cask Finish Gin from the brand ... Read more.

Brand News: Loch Lomond Whiskies

Wed 15th May 2019

Loch Lomond Whiskies’ Loch Lomond 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky has triumphed at the Bartenders’ Brand Awards, including the to... Read more.

Mixologists causing a stir

Tue 14th May 2019

Today we profile DANIEL ELPHINSTONE of Orchid in Aberdeen and DAVID GODDARD of Bar One, Inverness.... Read more.

Mixologists causing a stir

Mon 13th May 2019

Today it's the turn of DIMI SAVVAIDIS The King of Islington Dundee and DANNY MCMANUS Kelvingrove Cafe Glasgow .... Read more.