Home Insider Expat Insider “Myanmar, Thank You, I’m Lovin’ it!” Interview withGiorgio Fedeli of L’Opera...

“Myanmar, Thank You, I’m Lovin’ it!” Interview withGiorgio Fedeli of L’Opera Italian Restaurant & Bar

Name : Giorgio Fedeli Position : Managing Director

L’Opera Italian Restaurant & Bar


MI : When did you first come to Myanmar and what was your impression then?

The first time I came to Myanmar was in 1999. My father was working here in the Italian Embassy in Yangon. I fell in love with the city first, then with the whole Country. The expats I met then, believe it or not, still are living in Myanmar. This country is special, and people do not really want to ever leave.

MI : What do you think of Myanmar now?

It’s rapidly changing, but, at the same keeping it’s charming and captivating features. The traffic can be challenging at times, but then again, I can’t think of any city in the World that has a better traffic situation… so, there you go, a winner also in that category!

MI : Please tell us the history of L’Opera starting from 1997.

Mr. Rossano Gennari founded L’Opera in Bangkok about 30 years ago. He then went ahead and opened another 2 restaurants in Asia, bearing the same name, one in Vientiane and the other one right here, in Yangon. After a short period, less than a year, he sold the Myanamr business to some investors. Shortly after, my father, Francesco Fedeli, also invested in the restaurant and is currently the CEO.

MI : What kind difficulties L’Opera encountered during this journey?

Too many to list here. But that is true for any Company that has 18 years of history. It would not be worth it without the ups and downs, the tribulations, the sleepless nights. That is what makes you stronger, defines your spirit, motivates you to create something of value, which people are ready to experience and come back a multitude of time for.

MI : How did you end up as the Man- aging Director of L’Opera? And please tell us more about your current position?

As most often it happens… I was in the right place at the right time!

My sister Lisa has managed the Restaurants for 10 years. She is currently in Spain. I had been working for L’Opera as the Marketing Manager and helping out in various aspects of the business for over 4 years by then. I was offered the position. I obviously accept- ed. I am very happy of that decision.

MI : What makes L’Opera different from other Italian restaurants?

Where to start?! Have you looked around? Isn’t it beautiful? It’s a section of Paradise on Earth! I would work here for free! It’s amazing to come here day after day, and relive the beauty of this place over and over again. I hope it will last forever! Our clients, many of which have been coming to L’Opera since the beginning, say they come here be- cause in addition to the delicious food and the impeccable service, they find a family atmosphere which welcomes them warmly every single time. I guess it’s a mix of different top-notch ingredients (pun intended!)

MI : What is L’Opera’s target market segment?

This year we received 4 distinct awards at the “Myanmore Dining and Nightlife Awards” . They were for: BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT, BEST FINE DINING, BEST OUTDOOR DINING, BEST SERVICE & MOST ATTENTIVE STAFF

So, I guess our target segment is anyone who wants to eat great Italian food, or have a fine dining experience, or enjoy their eve- ning with friends, family, or business partners in our amazing garden, and, in all these instances, received the best service possible made possible by our terrific staff.

MI : How’s local customers’ taste different?

This is one of the things that changed during the course of time. At the beginning it wasn’t easy to sell carpaccio beef (raw meat), pro- sciutto (cold cut, also raw), and various other Italian traditional dishes which varied substantially from the local taste. But, with time, this has not been less of an issue. In fact, more than half our customers are local, and they enjoy all the plates we offer, and try new dishes every time they come to visit. Asians in general cannot eat dishes which appear to be salty. So, for some seafood (black clams, baby clams, etc.), and plates which utilize cheese (gorgonzola, parmigian, etc.) we inform the client ahead of time that they might feel salty. The other item that I can think of is bread. Asians in general, prefer the softer breads to the harder ones. Italian bread tends to be crunchy, so, for Asian clients, we present a variety of softer breads.

MI : Since the opening in 1997, how has the menu changed and what is the growth like?

The menu is a living thing. It changes all the time. Not by much. It’s basically on a journey to perfection and it’s our job to help it. Clients like to see new dishes. We naturally have a very large selection of the main Italian dishes, but, thanks to the creativity of our one star Michelin Chef, Massimiliano Armenio, we are able to provide new dishes, experiences, which makes the visit here at L’Opera even more worthwhile. Massimiliano is already a legend in Yangon. He is al- ways in a good mood, speaks many languages (English, Italian, Arabic, French, etc.), and loves cooking!

MI : How does L’Opera control its quality?

Since the beginning, by selecting only the best quality products. I know that everybody says the same thing, but it’s what we do. If every ingredient you select is the best one available, then it is that much easier to provide the best possible dishes to your clients.

MI : Please tell us more about the ex- pansion of L’Opera in Nay Pyi Taw.

In Nay Pyi Taw we have opened, on Novem- ber 9th 2014, a new branch of L’Opera in the Nirvana Hotel & Resort (No.MH-3/4 Yar Za Thingaha Road, Dakkhina Thiri Township, Hotel Zone 1). It’s a very big restaurant, over 500 square meters, with 4 private rooms. We have opened it in collaboration with Mr. Thiha Aung, the CEO of Young Invest- ment Group and the owner of the Nirvana Hotel. We are very satisfied with how it is operating. The Chef is an Italian from Bari, Alessandro Strippoli. He speaks very good English and loves Nay Pyi Taw.

MI : What are your future expansion plans in Myanmar?

We already have a project for Bagan in the works. Lately, we also are thinking of opening in Mandalay. In any case, I prefer to talk about things after they have materialized.

MI : How popular is the Italian cuisine here compared to other foreign foods?

Do I really have to answer this question?! Do the following words mean anything to you? Pasta! Pizza! Mozzarella! Prosciutto! or….. well, you get the picture right? Italian cuisine is number one all around the World. It is so varied, so tasty, so simple. Italians live for eating (and other things which cannot be tion, cause it makes us excel even more. Side note: we won our four Myanmore Awards in the year that competition was supposed to be at its peak.

MI : Since a number of foreign chain restaurants and brands have entered the local F&B market, what kind of impact does it have on L’Opera?

For now, not a big impact. I do not foresee any changes in this respect in the future, since chain restaurants attract a different group of clients who would not come to L’Opera.

MI : From a business standpoint, what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing you and your team in Myanmar in next 1-3 years?

Well, since we are a restaurant, we rely for the most part on fresh products. It is difficult at the moment, for one reason or another, to get a steady supply of any product. This has always been the case, but, with the increase of Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes and other food selling businesses, or new regulations, the availability of products in the market is at time scarce, and, in any case, increasing in price to levels which do not allow you to profit from them. I remember this to be the case also in Thailand. Nowadays Thailand has overcome this hurdle and I hope that it will be resolved here as well.

MI : What advice would you give to someone looking to start up a business in Myanmar’s F&B sector?

It’s not easy to start a business anywhere in the World, but, in terms of the F&B sector, this country can still provide good oppor- tunities to anyone with the will to do so. There are relatively few options; just think of cities like Bangkok, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore….. So, if you are thinking of start- ing your business in Asia, Myanmar could possibly be your best bet!

MI : How are you enjoying your days in Myanmar?

I do not know if I can say it since it’s the slogan of a foreign chain restaurant. So, just to be safe I will first say “without prejudice”, but basically, “Myanmar, Thank You, I’m Lovin’ it!”[/paypal]