Buca di Beppo, Meet Planet Hollywood

We haven’t followed Buca di Beppo for a while, so it came as a surprise when we saw that Planet Hollywood is buying the 88-restaurant Italian chain for $28.5 million including debt.

We knew that Buca was having some troubled financial times – even before the economy started going way south – and always figured it was for a combination of reasons, like some bad site selections and high real estate costs for large restaurants. In its most recently-reported quarter, its Q1, the company lost $4.2 million, and the chain is being bought for 45 cents per share, which was a 41% premium over its prior closing price.

However, every time we’ve been to one of its restaurants, or driven by, they have been packed. But we admit that this observation is very unscientific because these instances are on business trips and at touristy locales that probably garner the most traffic.

But what in the wide world of sports do you think Planet Hollywood has in store for the chain? We sure don’t know. Give it your best guess and fire away, readers.

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16 Responses to “Buca di Beppo, Meet Planet Hollywood”


  1. 1 Matt August 6, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Your numbers are not correct for the BUCA purchase price, it is more like $10 million

  2. 2 iritter August 6, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Matt,
    Apparently that is the purchase price including debt…should have been more clear.
    Other reports have it at just under $10 million excluding debt.
    Sorry and thanks.

  3. 3 Ron August 6, 2008 at 9:23 am

    I think the food is way better than average and the decorations really interesting. The layout of the restaurant gives one a good feeling of privacy for your group, no like you’re just in a big room.

    The quality of the food is excellant. I think the reason they are not a profitable as say Maggiano’s is that the bar area is small and and has not caught on like Magianno’s. Big profits in bar areas of restaurants. Planet Hollywood will probably screw it up.

  4. 4 Austinite August 6, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Perhaps Planet Hollywood and Buca di Beppo will be in a joint venture to sponsor Sylvester Stallone’s new movie “The Italian Stallion Takes Pasta to the Moon.”

  5. 5 Nancy H August 8, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Interesting…I thought Planet Hollywood was a thing of the past. They made such a HUGE deal about the one they opened in Phoenix (at the Biltmore), and it seems like within a year it was closed. Now the building is a Cheesecake Factory. So I guess I would have to agree with Ron – they’ll probably screw it up. Sad, because Buca is really a neat place. We have one here in Scottsdale that is always jammed – and the one in Pasadena is in an out of the way spot, and tiny, and always has a line around the corner and down the street. It sounds like gross mis-management if they are in that much trouble financially. Maybe Planet Hollywood will turn it into a “Godfather Revisted” restaurant. Have a grand re-opening with Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton. Sylvester Stalone can play Don Vito Corlione.

  6. 6 StalloneFan August 14, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Film release: Copland II. Sylvester Stallone plays a lone wolf cop who unwittingly uncovers internal financial mismanagement at Buca di Beppo via his brother in-law, Paulie Pennino, who works as a night fry cook at the restaurant chain.

  7. 7 JT November 30, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    A former front and back of the house employee of Buca, who has continued to dine at some of the restaurant’s locations, I was disappointed to hear that Buca has been taken over by Planet Hollywood.

    On my recent visit I discovered, to Buca’s detriment, the following:

    The wait staff is now required to wear ties. First, women, of which my server was one, should never, ever ever, have to wear a tie. Ties are men’s accessories, and this is no longer the early nineties. Second, what is this the olive garden? That is in an insult, by the way.

    The wait staff is now required to wear name tags. Name tags, in effect, decrease the personality of the personnel, making them something of a corporate drone. Jessie, tell me, where is the toilet paper? Aisle 12. So much for striking up a rapport, or relationship with what might have been regular guests.

    Furthermore, by eliminating the need for proper introduction guests have every reason to treat a server as justly as the tag implies, a servant who must not speak unless spoken to. As opposed to a gracious host welcoming you into their home for a relaxing time and some great food.

    Which of course brings me to the so called bruschetta. Before ordering, my server informed me that the bruschetta is now made without onion and garlic. A favorite of mine since I worked at the restaurant, I did not order it this time. Later on, I discovered through another staff member that it is because of labor costs that these ingredients are to be left out of a number of dishes that once called for “bruschetta.” Because a corporate somebody decided that flavor was second to cost, Buca lost a sale.

    I ordered the pepperoni pizza, another favorite. I was first disappointed when the pizza came without pepperocinis and the spicy pizza oil, items that the menu clearly states that it includes. (Experience dictates that most people would rather have without, but the server didn’t even ask.) Second, I was disappointed by the taste, not quite right. I blamed it on the crust. However, I was later informed, as I was about the bruschetta, that the recipe had been changed.

    On a positive note, the server, whose name I still do not know, because I would rather make eye contact than look at a woman’s breast, was pleasant, attentive, and accommodating. The pizza was well done as requested and the broccoli romano came out as expected. Also, the Chianti still hits the spot.

    Unfortunately, because of the Hollywood grip on Buca, I do not expect to dine there again.

  8. 8 Mr Hollywood January 25, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I am actually someone very involved in the restructure of Buca Di Beppo. We at Planet Hollywood as with any restaurant co in today’s economy have had our struggles.
    We have already been thru the restructure process and amazingly posted
    gains in 2008 from 2007. As a person deeply involved in this restructure I assure you that Our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction is top priority.
    As I read in the posting that you see alot of people in the locations so how could the company have been in trouble.
    I am not at liberty to discuss any of that but assure you that you will see higher standards, cleaner locations and a more financially sound organization.
    We are holding all management accountable for the standards set in place and personally going to every location auditing.
    we commit ourselves to the customer.

  9. 9 ProfitoDiLupo January 30, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    As a veteran famiglia member of Buca Di Beppo (6 years), I must say that I have been impressed thus far with some of the changes that Planet Hollywood has created. The menu change has been amazingly welcomed by our guest and famiglia members. I have seen plenty of changes come from Buca, some were welcomed with great results(small sizes:2-3 guest and large sizes: 4-6 guest, lunch menu), but most were not received to well(Mio, Buca Due, etc.) Planet Hollywood has already shown me that they are all about the guest. The Buca concept is great and works(properly operated), the new menu is amazing and the atmosphere is tremendous! To echo
    Mr. Hollywood, the standards have been raised and the commitment that they have made(with Buca) has made me a believer that Buca Di Beppo will be back stronger than ever. I can tell you that at my current Buca locations, we have already seen the diference in changes and positive results that they have created. If you have never been to a Buca Di Beppo, take your family, make a reservation for the kitchen or Pope tables and enjouy GREAT food, a lively ambience, and over the top service. We celebrate birthsdays, anniversaries, receptions, and any special occassion that you may have. CIAO, ProfitoDiLupo—Buca, Naples

  10. 10 BuffaloBill February 1, 2009 at 3:31 am

    YO ADRIENNE!!!

  11. 11 Ellie February 19, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I’d be interested to know whether the Encino location has changed for the better or worse. I haven’t been there recently because of the miserable parking situation, but the food was good the last time I was there. I sincerely hope the basic ingredients of good Italian cuisine haven’t truly been eliminated!

  12. 12 Abe Froman March 26, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Buca was my family’s and my favorite restaurant. Then we went a few times in the late fall and things seemed different. The pepperoni pizza wasn’t as good and the butcher paper menus had been replaced by something that looked like TGI Friday’s. We used to go to Buca once a month and spend about $70. Now we almost never go. My kids still ask for it, for sentimental reasons, but my and my wife have noticed changes we don’t like — so every now and then for takeout for the kids. I had never looked up the ownership of Buca before, but I did due to the changes. I saw that Planet Hollywood had purchased Buca and then understood why Buca was being made to look and feel just like every other chain restaurant. When I first moved to this area, I had never heard of Buca, and actually thought it was just a local restaurant — it had that feel. I don’t think I would mistake it for that now. I guess that it’s Planet Hollywood that has messed up Buca, although perhaps all this change came from Buca management. Anyways, I don’t go anymore and I don’t recommend it (I used to all the time). I’m sorry to see it go — but I’m sure I’ll find a ‘real’ local Italian restaurant to be my favorite. Honestly, it was a little embarrassing to have my favorite restaurant be a chain, so maybe I should be thanking Planet Hollywood.

  13. 13 Rich June 8, 2009 at 12:54 am

    I’m sorry to hear PH bought BDB. I was never a fan of PH (only went there once and that was enough). I echo the sentiment and fond memories Abe had shared and will miss the “family” feeling we had in times past at BDB.

  14. 14 Disappointed November 22, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    I used to frequent Buca, but my visits have declined in direct correlation to the continuing decline in the food. It seems that many of the recipes have been altered, and not for the better. The baked ravioli pales in comparison to the old incarnation, which was unique and delicious with the inclusion of the goat cheese and bruschetta style topping. Because they changed it, and not for the better, I tried the chicken parmesan. Again, it has been modified, and seemingly simplified, without the same seasoning and topping it used to have. I don’t think I will be returning.

  15. 15 Joerollverinhisgrave February 24, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    You have not not seen anything yet…..boring food and poor leadership
    really celebraties going to save this concept….just like Planet Hollywood..oh yea there almost dead, how many Planets are left out of how many????
    and the Casino is taken over by Harrahs….no more CASH……
    they continue to hand out coupons they might eclipise the national debt because management is instructed to TAKE ALL coupons no matter when they expire. You don’t believe me try it..oh yea search entertainment book and print all the coupons you want that never expire
    PRICES just went up again too!!!!

  16. 16 Joe April 3, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Yea Planet H really raped Bucca. I thought the place used to be great for a chain. PH bought it and its really beginning to suck major. Raise the price 10-20%. Cheapen the food quality/quantity 10-30% and you have successfully raped the hell outa your customers. Could take 7-12 yrs to bankrupt the place or turn it into a crappy olive garden. I would have rather seen it close than get whored out till it was burned out. It went to PH once when it opened and it was nothing more than a place to rip off lower middle class suckers. Food was tiny portions, overpriced, packed, with a mile long line to look at some Hollywood junk.


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