You hang around for one restaurant opening... and then three come along at the same time.
That’s the feeling at Birmingham-based Italian restaurant group San Carlo, which is poised to pull off a pre-Olympic hat-trick and cut the ribbon on a trio of different venues before the start of the Games.
The first to open, at the end of next week, is Fumo, a new Venetian-style tapas and bar concept in Birmingham city centre.
Fumo will be followed by the high-profile opening of a new £1.5 million Cicchetti restaurant in London’s West End.
Based on the group’s phenomenally successful Manchester restaurant, which is a popular haunt of pasta-seeking Premiership stars, Cicchetti will open in St James’s Piccadilly during the first week of July.
The final summer opening will be in Bangkok, where San Carlo will open the doors of one of its flagship Senior Sassi restaurants.
Marcello Distefano, San Carlo managing director, said: “It has all come together at the same time. It wasn’t intended, it’s just one of those things.
“You set it out in your budget plan and different things happen, designs change, and before you know it everything opens at the same time.”
The group has invested £1.2 million in Birmingham’s Fumo venture, which will open in Waterloo Street alongside the established San Carlo restaurant.
Mr Distefano said the idea was for Fumo to complement San Carlo, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It will be a sophisticated late-night bar and will offer relaxed dining where guests are encouraged to try lots of small plates of food, mixing and matching dishes as they fancy.
The flexible format breaks down the formality of the traditional three-course dinner and draws on the communal experience of dining that has proved so popular in cultures such as Spain, Japan and China. Mr Distefano said: “I think people are enjoying this style of eating. It has very much become a fashion.
“I think people like to try lots of things. With this style of eating, you can have two or three or four different dishes. It is stylish and interactive. You can try fish, meat and vegetables.”
He said Fumo, which means “smoke,” will have an in-house smokery for meats, fish and cheeses.
It will offer an extensive cocktails list and fine wines and will stay open to 2am. A DJ will play music from 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
There will be space for 78 diners at tables and another 30 can be seated at the bar for casual meals.
Cicchetti in Piccadilly will cater for 110 covers in a 2,750 sq ft unit adjoining the Crown Estate’s £100m St James’s Gateway redevelopment scheme.
Mr Distefano’s father Carlo, group founder and chairman, said the Piccadilly restaurant was an important part of the strategic targeting of leading world destinations.
He said: “St James’s is a key location for us and complements our portfolio of restaurants in capital cities throughout the world which include Kuwait, Beirut and Bangkok. We are now looking at opportunities in Hong Kong, China and India.” San Carlo Group operates 10 restaurants throughout the UK.