On the Ajaccio ring road, the success of the food court

On the outskirts of the city center of Ajaccio, a fast food offer borders the four lanes of the Rocade, near Leclerc. Installed on private land, the eight merchants in the area present themselves as an offer in their own right, on the fringes of the establishments in the center.

Behind her raised counter, Daisie is ready for her evening shift. The manager of the pancake restaurant, Crêpe et Diem, is installed in the area after the work carried out on the ring road. With seven other restaurateurs, she shares this “food court”. These food courts around which several fast food offers are generally grouped are imported from the United States, where they were developed in the 1980s, mainly in shopping malls. They have gradually found their place in Europe and France, driven by the success of fast foods and food globalization.

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On the ring road, everyone shares a common space where several wooden tables are arranged. For the owner of the land and the sushi restaurant, Anthony Mariani, the objective of the concept is to “doing things together, consulting between independent restaurateurs and developing the area”.

A local and regular clientele

All businesses agree on the same principle: no competition. Each offers different services: pizza, chicken, mussels, etc. “You can start having dinner with us, then end up having a crepe on the side for dessert, and that wherever you want in the area!”explains Patricia, manager of one of the shops.

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For owner Anthony Mariani, the food court is a real alternative to the restaurant offer that exists in the city center: “We offer fast food and do not serve at the table”, he says. The difference is also noticeable on the prices practiced, according to the customers. “Here, we can eat a kilo of mussels for less than 14 euros! It’s a real change from the centre, which is becoming a real area for the rich”, believes Michel, who came to have dinner with his friends. Seated a few meters from the road, Michel said he was hardly bothered by the comings and goings of cars: “They don’t bother me, they are far enough away, a side alley separates us”. For many, coming here is a habit. Seated at a table around a sushi platter, Stéphanie and her niece live a few minutes from here. Shops are part of their neighborhood and their habits: “We often come here for dinner and when I pass here by car, I also often take away. The value for money is very good”she explains.

To achieve this, businesses align themselves on more or less similar prices. “We are careful not to offer prices that are too high or lower than the others so as not to create too much competition”we observe at the crêperie run by Daisie.

An unbroken success

Patricia is one of eight traders in the area.  - Photo Florent Selvini

Here, each restaurant is run by an independent merchant. To be able to operate, restaurateurs pay a rent of 1,000 euros, including VAT”, says Daisie. The area has belonged to Anthony Mariani since 2017. He has gradually approached each restaurateur, like Patricia, initially installed below KFC, further on the ring road. “The land belongs to me, I simply rent the pitches”details Anthony Mariani.

Until 2021, no restaurateur owned his business. Now everyone has the opportunity to buy it: “Once started, merchants feel securerelates Anthony Mariani, even if some wish to remain on a precarious lease”.

According to the owner of the land, the installation requests are constantly growing. However, the last place has just been rented. At the beginning of December, a couscous restaurant will set up alongside the other traders.

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