GIRAFFE stood tall on its launch day at Tesco Extra in Ocotal Way yesterday, with restaurant manager Georgina Earp underlining a future independent of the supermarket.
In March 2013, Tesco bought the restaurant chain in a £48.6m deal and since then, Giraffe branches have begun to pop up inside or near superstores across the country.
Swindon’s own Giraffe opened its doors yesterday, and manager Georgina was keen to make it clear the businesses are different, with the restaurant focused on bringing a more youthful edge to the retail outlet.
“We have a separate identity,” she said. “All the things we have here are for Giraffe, not Tesco. The staff are different, people will be served by Giraffe staff, not Tesco’s.
“It’s going to be good, it’s going to be a lot more lively than the old Tesco cafe. This is going to inject a lot of life into the supermarket, it’s going to change the way people see it.
“It’s a bit younger, not to isolate the older customers, but it’s going to cater for a wide range of people.
“Whether it’s dates, cocktails before a night-out, or a bite to eat before you go shopping, we will be able to cater for them.”
Georgina, 26, has worked with the restaurant chain for more than three years, with experience at branches in Bristol, Bath, Reading and Cirencester, where she also tried out the supermarket restaurant model.
There she said the challenges centred on convincing those people who don’t like change that it was a restaurant for all.
“It was difficult, especially for the older ones, who just wanted to come in for a cup of tea,” she said. “We had a friendly team in Cirencester and have a very friendly team here, who work to change people’s minds about the place. We are all prepared to have a chat with people, and if the odd free coffee here and there helps, then so be it.”
The Swindon restaurant will seat 170 diners at capacity, with 40 staff all recruited and trained for action.
The majority of staff are from Swindon and the immediate surrounding area and Georgina said it took some time to whittle down the enormous list of applicants she faced.
The new eatery is open from 7am until 11pm, Monday to Saturday, and 9am to 10pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.