01/06/2004 - 22:00


01/06/2004 - 22:00


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Restaurant and cafe ‘pioneers’ Dario and Lina Cipollini are taking a little time off after the sale of Bravo’s. But only a little time, as Julie-anne Sprague reports


IT may have been only six weeks since Dario and Lina Cipollini officially sold Bravo’s, but they’re already thinking about what to do next.

And after chatting with them at their North Perth restaurant, Café Navona, it’s easy to see why.

They have a passion for the restaurant industry and enjoy the day-to-day management of staff and customers. And it seems they have a formula that can create success time and time again.

For the moment, however, the Cipollinis are in the unfamiliar position of operating just the one restaurant. It’s the first time in five years this has been the case, in fact.

The pair started the current Café Navona seven years ago, establishing it after enjoying success with a cafe of the same name they opened 15 years ago in Northbridge.

Bravo’s was opened almost five years ago and now the pair is enjoying a little time off before deciding what to do next.

But one thing’s for certain, it’ll be something to do with a restaurant.

“We’re just taking a break for the moment but we are looking at doing something, although we have no immediate plans,” Mr Cipollini says.

The Cipollinis are something of a pioneering couple of the city’s different restaurant scenes. They were among the first to open cafes in Northbridge, North Perth and Subiaco.

“We started Northbridge from scratch, we started this [Café Navona] from scratch and we did Bravo’s from scratch, so I guess we are pioneers,” Mrs Cipollini says.

“We sold Café Navona in Northbridge a couple of years after opening in North Perth and we really started the cafe boom there.”

Mr Cipollini remembers a very different precinct to that which exists today.

“Before us there were places selling sandwiches and coffee, or you had the Silver Dollar fine dining restaurant,” he said.

“We blended the two and now there are more and more of them there.”

And while the Cipollinis sold Bravo’s to Adam Ross, husband of Linda (formerly Mead), they are proud of what they achieved during the four-and-a-half years there.

Bravo’s has since been renamed Wildfire.

“We were part of the launch of Subi Centro. Apart from us there was Woolworths and another cafe that didn’t end up lasting. We have seen the area grow and the growth was consistent with our growth,” Mrs Cipollini says.

Success in the restaurant game is fairly simple, they told Gusto.

Commitment to the business and hard, hands-on, work.

“People have to accept that if you are in this business it’s a different lifestyle. You have to live and breathe it. You have to work nights and it really becomes your social life. You have to be there and you have to be hands-on,” Mrs Cipollini says.

Mr Cipollini agrees that having a face behind the restaurant is very important, so much so that when they operate two restaurants, each operates an individual restaurant.

“It matters to people that you are here and I think when you are here working with staff you get so much more out of them because you work as a team,” he said.

Mrs Cipollini says knowing every facet of the business was something that had played a big role in their business success.

“We play in the front and we play in the back and we have found that we have moved that imaginary line between front of house and back of house,” she says.

“We are between the chefs and wait staff and it really does make it a smoother process.

“We find that it also takes the pressure out of the place.

“If someone calls in sick we can cover it. Dario or I can make drinks or work in the kitchen and our staff don’t have to worry that because someone can’t make it that their shift will be tough.

Mr Cipollini says his employees were also more inclined to take on board criticism because he and his wife had intimate knowledge of the roles. It’s really hard to tell someone to do a job if you don’t know it yourself. People take our advice because we know what we’re doing,” he says.


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