A Director of two local takeaway businesses with more than two decades' silver service hospitality experience across five countries is bringing some Italian flair to Liberty Wharf with a new eatery.
The Rigatoni is described as a “modern Italian” restaurant, offering all-day dining at the former premises of the Cornish Bakery.
Although the restaurant is brand new, Director Claudio Abreu (pictured top) is definitely no stranger to the hospitality business.
He has over 20 years’ experience in the industry, working and studying in Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and the UK.
Locally, he has worked at the Royal Yacht for 15 years, where he is now the Operations General Manager as well as heading up the Food and Beverage Department.
Pictured: Mr Abreu is also founder and President of the Royal Yacht's 'Wine Club'.
Alongside this, he is also the Director of Chicken Run and The Naughty Fish, which he describes as his “side businesses”.
Mr Abreu found out that the location at Liberty Wharf was available in May and, after four weeks of renovations, opened The Rigatoni last week.
Speaking to the Express, he expressed his excitement: “I'm delighted to be up and running! I really think there is a gap in the market for The Rigatoni.
"There are obviously already some good Italian restaurants in Jersey, but they’re a bit more classic so I thought the island was missing something that is a bit more modern, casual and fast-paced.
“The location just fitted perfectly. Liberation Square is a such a nice area and you get access to all the tourism as well the local people. There’s a bit of everything in the area with pubs, hotels, and restaurants.
"We have a Mexican restaurant and Spanish restaurant across the road, and a Fish and Chip shop next door, but what is missing in the area is an Italian restaurant!”
Pictured: The restaurant offers a range of sharing platters as part of its modern Italian menu.
The restaurant’s name is inspired by a type of pasta which is featured in some of the dishes. Mr Abreu explains how the rigatoni pasta shape “holds well travelling” which hints towards the restaurant’s future aspirations to soon be able to offer “grab and go, or takeaway food’ but for now they're focussing on customers dining in.
Mr Abreu said: “There’s something for everyone. The Rigatoni’s concept is that you can come in the morning and grab a coffee and go, or you can sit in and work away for a couple of hours.
"Then comes lunchtime, when we want to appeal to tourists as well as the workers in the finance industry who are based in offices all around us. In the evenings, people can come in for a bit of antipasto dining.”
Pictured: The old Cornish Bakery premises have been given a modern Italian makeover.
He added: “It’s an all-day dining venue which there aren’t many of in Jersey. It’s supposed to be casual, but with good quality ingredients featuring Italian flavours and influence.
"We've also ensured that our menu is modern in the sense that it caters for those with dietary requirements, including vegan and gluten-free customers."
Despite his wealth of experience, Mr Abreu is not immune to the array of challenges facing the whole hospitality industry at the moment.
He admitted that it's been "very difficult to find members of staff with the right skills but we’ve been lucky in managing to find enough people to open."
He added: "There’s just a general lack of people available across Jersey in all trades which made it difficult to get the restaurant ready for opening. When you’re looking for a carpenter or a tiler or a painter, you can’t find one!
“It seems like everyone is fully booked for months, but people were really great in helping me out working overtime which was brilliant.”
Pictured: The Rigatoni offers outdoor dining at both the front and back of the restaurant for the summer months.
Although the restaurant has only been open for a week, Mr Abreu is very pleased with the response so far.
He said: “The footfall has been amazing. We’ve been pretty much full since day one, even without much advertising! I’d say that roughly 60-70% of our customers so far have been tourists, so it will be nice to encourage more locals in once we’ve settled down a bit.
"The customer feedback has been amazing so far, and we’ve even had dinner guests coming back again the next day for breakfast or lunch!
“People coming back two or three days in a row has really proved to us that the quality is there and it’s given me peace of mind that we’re doing something right.”
The Rigatoni is based at Liberty Wharf and is open all day every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner (excluding Mondays).
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