The center of the “red and black” club went on an adventure a few months ago: an Italian restaurant in Cornebarrieu. He is fully involved in it, despite the limitations associated with his activity as a professional player.
In life, everything is a matter of opportunities and encounters. Although restoration has always attracted him, Sofiane Guitoune had never dared to take the plunge.
Because he hasn’t hung up his crampons yet, but also out of fear of not having enough time to devote to his family. Only Covid has been there and for once it was good.
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“There were no receptions after the game, says the center. When you finish the game and half an hour later there is no one left, the first time it surprises you. You get home early at home and the second time you tell yourself it’s not possible. So I told the guys that the next game at home we stayed to eat a team meal and not just play our game and split up. I asked Romain if he could deliver pizzas to us at the Stadium and he did that at almost every game.”
A food truck to start
Based in the center of Cornebarrieu, Romain Mazzolini had met his future partner through his wife – she is also part of the adventure – who regularly lunched there.
“I’ve been there once and I liked it,” smiles Guitoune. And after launching the “Bella Cosi” food truck that Stade Toulousain supporters visit Ernest-Wallon on match days, the two men saw big things.
“Before, he had the pizzeria in the city center, it was limited to a small kiosk and he was overwhelmed by his quality. He was always full, forced to turn people away, and that’s frustrating for a restaurateur. When there was an opportunity. here and the place was freed up, he told me we could do something crazy, a real Italian restaurant. It was hard before I said yes, but I didn’t. no regrets. We’ve been here for five months and it’s cool. The little pizzeria, it was family, they worked at four o’clock. There, it’s a real restaurant, we have 13 employees, it’s starting to get tough. There are people at noon and in the evening.”
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That day Mattarello pizzeria, perfectly located in a shopping center at the entrance to Cornebarrieu, was really crowded. The decor is modern, with vegetable accents, and the room is organized in a U around the kitchen.
“We started from scratch. Romain wanted the star of the restaurant to be the oven, so that people could see how it works inside, that it is professional, clean, that you can trust what you eat on the plate”, explains Guitoune.
And indeed the quality is there. Regularly with a luxury waiter to bring dishes from an original menu. “I’m still more comfortable on a field than in the service, laughs Toulousain. I learn, I try to do the maximum, I see a lot. I don’t consider myself the boss when I’m here, I I’m a small wage earner, I do my best to help everyone.”
Despite a busy day, Guitoune never misses an opportunity to spend time in his business. “I drink coffee with the guys in the morning, at noon I’m at the till or at the bar and on days off I come to lend a hand. When I come to eat in the evening I can’t sit still, I have to get up to help. My wife tells me to take it easy, there’s rugby, but it actually makes me feel good.”
Because by embarking on this project, the center found a balance at a time when its morale was not in good shape: “The restaurant opened during my injury period. I really left the Stadium, I was tired, I couldn’t” take it anymore. It was tough mentally and it gave me an incredible breath of fresh air. I became 100% involved in the work, the recruitment, the map. I didn’t take a vacation and I didn’t come back to the stadium knowing where to put my foot, I didn’t rest, I didn’t do more preparation and I actually felt good. So I just kept going.”
I too at first told myself not to go too far, to be careful, but it was going well in rugby, yes here, so I didn’t see why I should stop. I don’t go there every day, but the day before the game against Racing, where I play my best game, I was there until midnight. It makes you think about something else. And the similarity we find with rugby is to bring joy to people. It suits me well.”
But rugby is never far away, as when he invites the whores, “I took Guilhem Guirado, Julien Marchand and when there are sometimes two or three bowls at the weekend, I tell them we’re going to do pizza skills and they laugh about that. Besides, they’ve already put the pizzas in the oven!”, he laughs.
And if he doesn’t deny that his fame can help, he makes sure: “People who come after Sofiane leave saying the pizzas are too good. That’s the goal. If people want to see me, they go to the Stadium.” Where he still gets his…paws to talk.