Gusto Italian to open in Oxford by end of year

Gusto Italian, the premium casual dining restaurant group, has announced the latest step in its expansion strategy, with its 14th site set to open in Oxford by the end of the year.

The new Gusto Italian restaurant and bar will open in the historic Mitre Hotel building on Oxford High Street, with further ambitions to open its first ever London location in 2023.

Vacant since 2018, when Beefeater ceased trading at the site, the old Mitre Hotel is considered one of the most historic hostelries in the city, with the grade II listed building dating back to 1630.

A primary focus for Gusto Italian in its renovation will be preserving the legacy of this iconic building, and the company has already committed to working with historic contractors and local specialists to restore this once grand venue.

This has been emphasised by Gusto Italian CEO Matt Snell, who commented, “We have wanted to secure a site in Oxford for some time and the Mitre Hotel topped our list of potential locations so we are thrilled to be announcing this opening.

'The Mitre Hotel has long been an Oxford landmark and it is an honour to become custodians of this site and restore this historic building to its former glory.

'By preserving the listed features, while introducing design elements that have made Gusto Italian so popular, we’re confident we will deliver a stunning building that combines tradition and modernity, that the people of Oxford will be proud to call their own.”

The 10,000 sq ft restaurant and bar is set to be a pillar in the Oxford casual dining sector with a planned 150 covers on the ground floor serving both diners and drinks guests, and a 100 cover function room on the first floor. The new site in Oxford follows the launch of Gusto Italian’s flagship Nottingham restaurant opened in December 2021.

As with Nottingham and newly refurbished sites including Cookridge in Leeds, and Liverpool, the Oxford location will feature three new design concepts which have proved to be a huge hit with customers: Pizza Experience, Theatre Kitchen, and Dine Under the Olive Trees, all of which help to deliver an immersive, unique dining experience evocative of the Amalfi Coast.

This announcement represents a significant step in Gusto Italian’s two-year growth strategy, as the company looks to expand to 16 sites and make substantial upgrades to its core estate over this period as part of a self-funded £2m CAPEX programme.

Forecast for further growth looks bright as recent customer feedback data illustrates the Gusto Italian model is hugely popular with consumers. Scores have reached record levels, the first-class experience reflected in an average Net Promoter Score in the high 80s, compared to an industry average of 55, and an average amongst the other leading casual dining operators in the high 60s.

Matt further commented, “Each new opening represents the culmination of months of market mapping research and consumer insight data analysis. We’re confident the new Oxford High Street site will be a high-performing addition to our growing estate and help us to build on our already strong financial footing.”

In addition to investing in its restaurants, Gusto Italian has also been investing in the people who work there. In April, the company announced a new partnership with PayCaptain, which strengthened its employee proposition and pushed financial awareness and wellbeing up the agenda for its people, while it has also launched an apprenticeship scheme, which will enable Junior Managers to achieve a degree-level qualification, bridging the skills gap and improving pathways for progression within the business.
Founded in Cheshire in 2005, Gusto Italian has almost 600 employees, known as family members, across 13 restaurants.