Buca di Beppo is an American restaurant chain specializing in Italian-American food. The name roughly translates as "Joe's Basement" (buca, which literally means "hole," can be a slang word in Tuscany for basement or cellar, and Beppo is a rare spelling of the nickname for "Giuseppe," the Italian form of "Joseph," in Northern Italy, since the most used spelling is Beppe). The chain of 92 (87 company-owned, 5 franchises in UK) establishments is owned by Buca, Inc., which in turn is owned by Planet Hollywood.
The chain is known for its vintage photographs hung closely spaced throughout the entire restaurant; it is said that they have more than 2,500 pictures. Restrooms feature recorded ambient sounds — women laughing and conversing in Italian in the men's room and vice versa in the women's room.
The food at Buca di Beppo is served family style, each item served à la carte and shared among the dining party. Some locations also have a lunch menu, featuring individual-sized portions. Each room at Buca is themed, and all restaurants have a Pope table—the largest single table, round, in a room by itself, with a bust of the Pope as centerpiece. Also, most locations have a table, usually inset to the wall, directly across from the main kitchen, at which the waiter and chefs will converse with you and allow you to sample many dishes.
In an attempt to boost sales during 2005, Buca introduced a Buca Mia, meaning "My Cellar", menu with less-expensive portions for two.
The first restaurant named Buca Little Italy was opened in the basement level of a Minneapolis apartment building in 1993 by Twin Cities restaurant company Parasole Restaurant Holdings. Five years later, it was spun off and renamed Buca di Beppo. By 1999 there were 20 locations when Buca, Inc. began trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange. There are 96 Buca restaurants operating nationwide.
The chain continued to grow, but began to hit some rough spots a few years later. Business losses mounted, and in 2005, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the company over securities laws. Two top executives left the company, three Buca di Beppo sites were closed, and the company described those restaurants and the Vinny T's chain as "discontinued operations" in 4th quarter 2005 earnings statements.
However, on May 22, 2006, the company announced that it would be keeping the Vinny T's stores, but converting them to Buca di Beppo locations. On September 25, 2006 Buca, Inc. sold their 11 Vinny T's of Boston restaurants to Bertucci's Corp. for $6.8 million.
On June 7, 2006, three former Buca executives were charged with stealing more than US$200,000 from the company.
On August 5, 2008, Planet Hollywood's parent company, Planet Hollywood International, Inc., agreed to purchase the Buca chain for US$28.5 million. Under terms of the deal, Buca became a wholly owned subsidiary of Planet Hollywood.
In 2011, Buca moved its headquarters from Minneapolis to Orlando, Florida, home of its parent company, citing financial incentives. In 2012, Rick Tasman was named CEO & President.