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The Authentic Pasta Restaurant

We stopped by our favourite lunchtime locals, L’Artigiano, on what happened to be their busiest afternoon since opening.

Leandro Longo and Diana Gonzalez L’Artigiano, Old Street, London

Partners in business and in life, Leandro Longo and Diana Gonzalez set up L’Artigiano last year. Now they provide freshly cooked pasta to hungry office workers from east London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ and beyond. We spoke to Leandro about their successful first year in business.

What inspired you to start your own business?

When I was a child my grandmother and my mother always used to make fresh pasta for us and this
is how I learnt. I have always worked in hospitality but always wanted my own business. It has been my dream since I was 14 years old.

My goal in life has always been to run my own restaurant.The name of the restaurant means ‘The Artisan’. An artisan is someone who makes things with their hands – the concept of our business.

What’s a typical day like for you?

We arrive here at seven o’clock in the morning to bake the croissants and pastries for breakfast.

At around eight o’clock we make the dough for the pasta. We never do the dough the day before; we make everything fresh.  

Each day we make four types of pasta – ravioli, tagliatelle, fettuccini and gnocchi – as well as lasagne, calzone and focaccia.

The ravioli fillings we change every 3-4 days, but sometimes we change them daily.

We make all our sauces fresh. We don’t buy anything readymade from suppliers; we just buy raw materials from our Italian suppliers.

Why did you choose the location?

We chose this area, Old Street, because there are a lot of offices and young professionals who don’t want to go in a restaurant, sit down and have a three-course meal.

We did our market research as well. We knew that a lot of people in this area have a one-hour break and there would be guaranteed lunchtime trade. Our concept is based on speed.

What challenges have you encountered along the way?

The biggest challenge was when we broke the pasta boiler. It just let us down after a lunch service.

It comes from Italy and is especially made for this type of business. There was no one in England who could fix this type of machine, so we had to send it back to Italy for a week and a half and run the business from the downstairs kitchen.

It was busy every day and we had to run up and down the stairs all day while trying to provide the same service to our customers. We did it – we don’t know how – but we did it, so I now say that after that, nothing can stop us.

What are your plans for the future?

We are planning to grow. In the next 3-4 years we want at least seven or eight outlets. This will be
difficult, but not impossible.

In London it is quite difficult to run a family business because there are too many big chains and they have too much power. So if you don’t take this power as well, it’s really difficult to keep your business going. After two or three years you could end up suffering.

Eventually we want to create our own chain. L’Artigiano is about fresh, handmade food, so every site would keep this concept.

We’re quite ambitious. We want to take our brand to the main cities of each nation – cities like Rome and Barcelona.

Next year we are opening our first shop in Mexico, where Diana, my partner is from, that’s quite a big step.

My favourite thing about running my business is thinking about the future. We want to make L’Artigiano the best place to eat fresh pasta.

I feel happy to get up at five o’clock and be here for seven o’clock.

What advice would you give to other aspiring small-business owners?

Don’t be afraid of anything. If you have an idea, just go for it. If you are afraid and don’t want to take the risk – it’s better not to go into business.

In business you never truly know your future. You can plan your future, you can forecast as much as you can, but forecasts aren’t always reality.

You need to be sure about what you are doing and be confident about your skills and what you can do. That’s how I did it.

I saw the opportunity and straightaway, without asking myself loads of questions, I just thought: “let’s go for it.”


Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.


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