San Carlo Group to expand in London and Manchester

By Lauren Houghton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Covent garden, Tapas, Aldo zilli, Restaurant

Father and son Carlo and Marcello Di Stefano
Father and son Carlo and Marcello Di Stefano
Italian restaurant group San Carlo has announced plans to open two more restaurants before the end of the year, Cicchetti in Covent Garden and a Fumo site in Manchester, their largest yet.

Cicchetti Covent Garden will be opening in August on Wellington Street in Covent Garden. The site will boast 100-covers and serve Italian-style tapas ranging from £3 to £7 from a menu which celebrity chef Aldo Zilli has collaborated with the group on.

The new Fumo site will open in Manchester in November as the sixth restaurant the group has in the city and its largest one yet. BigHospitality spoke to the San Carlo Group’s managing director Marcello Di Stefano about location choice, expansion plans and branding.

Location

Cicchetti Covent Garden will be the San Carlo Group’s second Cicchetti site in the nation’s capital, as it also owns another in Piccadilly that opened in the summer of 2012. The group felt like a move to Covent Garden was the next logical step.

Di Stefano said: “We started off with Cicchetti in Manchester and it near to our flagship San Carlo site not sure how it was going to go, but it ended up doing over double what we forecasted to do and became really popular, so we looked to expand further.

“We were looking for a site in London for a while before opening Cicchetti in Piccadilly in summer 2012. It’s been a huge success, which lead to our plans to open the new site in August. Covent Garden seemed to be the next step for Cicchetti. I’ve seen the area change over recent years and now it has a real different level of service and product offering around and this seemed like a good opportunity to get in.

“The site is on the main street with the other restaurants, it’s the hub of the eating area and it fits well with us and Cicchetti’s market.”

The San Carlo Group also has a number of sites in other UK cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, where the new Fumo will be the sixth San Carlo restaurant in the city.

“We’re looking for new sites all around the country,” said Di Stefano. “Our eyes are always on London but we’re also strong in the provinces and looking there too. We’ve always been a family business and very organic though, we wait for great opportunities to open new sites.”

Branding

The Cicchetti menu is tapas style dishes representing lots of regions around Italy, and the San Carlo Group have worked with celebrity chef Aldo Zilli on a number of aspects of the restaurant.

Di Stefano said: “We brought in Aldo a couple of years ago but he’s known my father for years. We got chatting one day and thought it’d be great for him to come on board, not just for menu but all sorts of stuff. We just work together now and we have a lot of fun, it works really well for us.”

A complete renovation is taking place in the Covent Garden site before it is decorated in the Cicchetti style, using lots of marble, wood and stone, though each Cichetti is designed a little differently depending on location so none look completely the same.

“I think people love the relaxed, informal nature of Cicchetti as well as the choice that’s available and the freshness of the dishes,” said Di Stefano.

“Then with Fumo, it’s an evolvement of Cichetti but it’s heavily pushed towards the bar as well, so we’ll have a huge bar in the new site. It’s completely different from Cicchetti in terms of décor and atmosphere; it has a completely different look and feel to it. The menu has some similarities, but lots of differences too.” 

Related topics: Business, Restaurants, Venues

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