60 Minutes with: Bruno Ferrin

Author Martina Acquafredda contributor
Amount of Images 7 Immagini
Calendar 15/06/2017
Time passed Tempo di lettura 3 min

INervesa della Battaglia, there’s a tavern where you can do way more than simply eat. Osteria ai Pioppi is a frasca ― a “tavern,” as known in Veneto dialect ― where there’s space to play on all the amusements. What’s more, the whole place is eco-friendly. Our editorial office had a talk with Bruno Ferrin who, for 50 years, has handcrafted slides, carousels, and trampolines to encourage his customers to have fun (together with their children).

Why did you open Osteria ai Pioppi?

I was trading yeast to make bread and I had lots of free afternoons. You know, I pretty much only worked in the morning, because with bakers, they start work early, and are finished by the early afternoon. My wife Marisa and I wanted to do something more, and earn some more cash on the side.

Why not create a frasca, we thought. So, we rented an old restaurant space in the heart of the woods, added a bit of wine and deli food, and we ended up with a tavern. Since then, we have grown a lot, and have repeatedly renovated our property, and purchased a larger piece of land.

How did the idea of creating the first game come together?

My frasca was very successful, and I wanted to build up something to entertain all the kids that passed by the restaurant. I first thought about buying a classic teeter-totter. I needed a couple of components to build it, so I went to the local blacksmith in my little town. The thing was that artisan didn’t have any time to help me out with building the teeter totter; he suggested that I build it on my own.

At the time, I never did anything like that before. I learned how to work with my hands and, since that first project, I haven’t stopped building things.

Which game is your favorite?

This is akin to asking your family which son or daughter they prefer. I like them all! I see so many people lining up to play my games, with no particular preference. This makes me proud of each and every one of my games.

Osteria started with an inclusive approach, targeting a wide base of customers. Why did you choose this approach, and how have you maintained it throughout the years?

Simplicity is a way of life in my opinion. Of course, we tweaked our approach as we went along ― for example, our kitchen has expanded, along with our menu, but we have still maintained our welcoming approach. 10 Euros will buy you lunch, and playing the games is totally free. Not bad, huh?

We’re living in a time where everything is digital, and everyone is constantly in a rush. We need to take a break from time to time and look at things from another perspective.

At the end of each year, I look over my bills and revenue. I’m happy to earn a bit more, but I don’t need to raise my earnings too much. I don’t need that. When customers eat here, they leave so happy: this is the real reward in my opinion.

A Million Steps

Do your customers eat or play first?

It depends. They eat a bit and play a bit. If they come early, or if the kitchen is getting too crazy, they go and play. Then, when they get hungry, they come to eat, and then go to play again. Our kitchen is open all day, which means customers can eat whenever they feel like it.

I would say maybe 5% of customers come to Osteria just to play. But I have no problem with this because they’ll eat next time they visit.

What menu item do you recommend at Osteria?

The casatella, which is a fresh cheese like squacquerone. I heat half a kilo of that, plus two eggs. It’s almost like a wedding lunch. I grew up at a time when these kind of simple, rich meals were very popular, so I like to keep the tradition alive.

Does anyone help you with bringing your ideas to life?

For the past 3 or 4 years, I have worked with my nephew Francesco. We design, build, and supervise everything. On Sundays, he comes to help me with the frasca.

He keeps me going, and I try to pass all my knowledge down to him. It seems to be working: he has started thinking of his own ideas for new games, and he has given me many suggestions.

What advice would you give to your nephew for the future of Osteria? And what game is next on the horizon?

We work side-by-side, so there’s usually a lot of space for open discussion. I always try to share my thoughts with him.

On one hand, I’m trying to make him understand that what we’re doing is good and there’s no rush to expand the business. On the other hand, I can’t say ‘do this, do that’ to him. When he inherits the business, I’m sure he will take lots of from our discussions into the future.

Photos and video by Osteria ai Pioppi

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