The owners of Italian restaurant San Carlo are opening a new dining venture in Birmingham as part of wider plans to invest £2.5 million in the city.
The family-owned business, which has gone on to achieve global success since opening in Birmingham 19 years ago, has taken on the property adjacent to its Temple Street restaurant and will create a Venetian tapas bar called Fumo next year.
Marcelo Di Stefano, whose father Carlo set up the restaurant in 1992, said the new venue would complement the existing restaurant and boost the city’s nightlife scene.
The latest investment comes amid a period of expansion for the firm, which opened a new restaurant in Beirut earlier this month and is set to open in Thailand next year.
Mr Di Stefano said: “We are redeveloping the original San Carlo and the new site, on the corner next door, we are redeveloping into a new bar-restaurant.
“It is going to be a new concept for Birmingham. The main feature will be the bar, which we hope will have a late licence. It is going to have music on on Fridays and Saturdays and in the week the food will be tapas, along the lines of our Cicchetti brand.
“It is so different to what we are already doing that we thing they will go well together.
“There will be fantastic innovative cocktails and a lot of stuff that Birmingham hasn’t seen before.”
Fumo will open its doors at the former Bodyclinic premises on Waterloo Street, in Birmingham, early April 2012, with the refurbishment of San Carlo expected to be completed by March.
San Carlo has seen revenue grow in the past year on the back of growing demand for its franchises.
Its Signor Sassi brand and Cicchetti franchise have expanded into Europe and the Middle East and Mr Di Stefano said the company was expecting sales growth in all three franchises over the next 18 months.
However, he said the company has not forgotten its roots, and plans for Fumo are evidence of reinvesting in the firm’s home city.
He said: “Birmingham has been really good to us and we have been doing fantastically well over the last few years, with new openings and growing considerably.
“Birmingham being our original restaurant we wanted to take this opportunity to buy the building next door and invest.”
The company, which employs a total of 480 people, opened its new Beirut restaurant on December 15, after a series of successes in the Middle East that have seen venues opened in Kuwait, Dubai, and Cairo.
The progress has come since it sold the franchise rights for the Middle East to Americana Group, also known as Kuwait Food Company, in 2009.
Mr Di Stefano said: “Although a lot of people still see Beirut as where it was 10 years ago, still having issues with Israel, it has become the up and coming place like it was in the 1970s.
“Dubai, Beirut, Abu Dhabi and Qatar are all seen as places to be, and Beirut is the most Mediterranean city of them all. Everyone is starting to open up there. The Four Seasons is right by where we will be opening. It is becoming a fashionable place to go.”
He said the new venue would not merely be a restaurant aimed at ex-pats, but local people as well.
“We never target a particular community – we just want a restaurant that people will enjoy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the new restaurant in Bangkok is expected to open in May after plans suffered a delay because of the floods in Thailand.
Mr Di Stefano said: “Everything is getting up and going now. The water seems to be receding so we are up and running now.”
“San Carlo in the UK is very well known but in terms of Signor Sassi it has got a huge international following.
“The franchise side of the business hasn’t been driven by us – it has been driven by customers.
“They have come to us and asked whether they can take the franchises back to their home countries.
“It has especially been a success in the Middle East. There is a huge following there.”