Italy’s financial woes come at a gastronomic cost too.
Le Beccherie, the Italian restaurant credited with inventing tiramisu, the popular cocoa-dusted and coffee-soaked dessert, will be shuttering its doors at the end of the month. The news was first reported by Italian news site Corriere della Sera (link in Italian).
The reason? A lame Italian economy. The iconic restaurant simply hasn’t been able to seat enough customers to justify its overhead these days. “There has been a fall in the number of customers,” owner Carlo Campeol told Corriere della Serra. “We’ve lost politicians, businesspeople, and members of the general public.”
La Beccherie has been around for more than seven decades—it was first opened in 1939 in the town of Treviso. Its tiramisu has been around for more than four decades—it was first made at Campeol’s relative, Ada Campeol, in the late 1970s. Treviso asked to be recognized as the official birthplace of tiramisu this past fall. “It’s very sad, because this place was established by my grandfather,” Campeol recently told CS Monitor.
The Italian economy has indeed been in the dumps. Everything from the country’s GDP, to its banking sector, and unemployment numbers, have been disappointing. The slowdown has been particularly tough on Italy’s service industry. It’s a trend that’s likely to continue—full-service restaurant sales are expected to continue falling in the country, according to market research firm Euromonitor. It’s also one that makes former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s claims that Italian restaurants were full sound all the more absurd. “The life in Italy is the life of a wealthy country: consumptions haven’t diminished, it’s hard to find seats on planes, our restaurants are full of people,” Berlusconi assured officials after a G20 summit in November of 2011.
Italy isn’t the only country juggling the consequences of tough economic times. Spain has been suffering through a similar recession, and the resultant squeeze on its service industry. Some 60,000 bars and restaurants have been forced to close up shop since the start of the euro crisis.