This week’s blog post looks into the history of our restaurant… How many of you remember it as a hairdressers before it became an Italian?
Yes that’s right, we started life as a unisex hairdressers before being converted into an Italian restaurant in the late 80’s. Originally just a couple of detached houses and a shop, the structure as it is now was built in 1970 as part of a plan to regenerate and modernise Romiley. The buildings on the south side of Compstall Road from the station to what is now Romiley Garage were demolished and cleared in the mid 1960s to create Romiley Precinct – a surprisingly modern idea to create a shopping centre, theatre, community centre, car park and flats in a small village where there was originally just a high street.
It wasn’t until 1993 however that current owner Ferdinando Mercogliano took over. Originally from Naples, Italy. Ferdinando studied at catering schools in Vico Equense and in the centre of Naples, working across Italy and Switzerland before settling in England in the early 80s aged just 19. Although still young when arriving in Britain, his ambition was always to open a restaurant specialising in the very regional food of his native Italy – one of his great passions.
After gaining experience in various Italian restaurants in the north west, meeting his wife Helen and starting a family, he took over as owner of The Italian in the November of 1993. In the early days, with two young children and another baby on the way it was extremely hard work and of course very very long hours. But the people of Romiley were very supportive and it was as much a pleasure then as it is now to cook meals for them. Five children later and now a successful restaurant in the heart of Romiley, The Italian is going from strength to strength – It feels like an integral part of the village.
Ferdinando is now a grandfather (and an old man – 50 this year!!), taking a small step back sharing his time between Lucca in Tuscany and here in Cheshire, although he is never far away his son, myself Alessandro, now making my own mark on this very family of businesses. Sharing his time between Italy and England means Ferdinando guarantees constant fresh and original menu ideas using the best local, seasonal ingredients mixed with a few specially imported ingredients from Italy.
A big thank you to all of our customers, from the ones who have been dining with us since opening all those years ago to the new faces we see each night. Thanks to each and everyone of you and thank you to the village of Romiley and the town of Stockport for taking The Italian to your heart.
Here’s to many many more years!