CHRISTIAN Tinelli might not be as well known as his father, Umberto, but then again he’s only a relative newcomer to managing hospitality businesses.
But growing up while his father created icon businesses such as Tinelli’s, Chianti on Colin, Campo di Fiore and, more recently, Il Principe Gran Caffe, has certainly provided a good grounding.
So much so that, after establishing street-press magazine Hype and completing dentistry studies at university, he’s put any plans of becoming a dentist or publisher on hold to concentrate on building up his dad’s newest business, Jo Jo’s Cafe.
“Working as a dentist would have worked well because dad could feed people the sweets and I could fix people up, but I’m more interested in developing this [Jo Jo’s] and our lunch bars,” he said.
Christian Tinelli set up the Havelock Street healthy lunch bar concept 4U, which opened in March 2003.
Based on the lunch bar’s success, the Tinellis want to open more of the 4U lunch bars in the CBD and shopping centres.
But for the time being Christian is busy managing Jo Jo’s Cafe, which opened last week.
And the cafe component of the name is crucial here.
It’s not ‘caffe’, as in Il Principe, but cafe as in stock-standard cafe, albeit with the Tinelli charm.
Jo Jo’s Cafe, situated on the Swan River at the end of Broadway in Nedlands, is all about soaking up the views while enjoying a light lunch, a coffee or glass of wine.
“It’s very casual,” Umberto Tinelli says.
“People see my name and they expect certain things but I want people to know that this is very casual.
“It’s like some of the places in Melbourne where it’s a causal place to have a very relaxed meal or coffee and cake.
“We are following a trend from all over the world. People want to be more relaxed and come out for fine dining only for special occasions.
“I am lucky because at Il Principe there are special occa-sions all the time because business people have guests coming from overseas and those types of things.
“I didn’t continue the restaurant at Jo Jo’s because I think the trend changed a few years ago.”
However, while the cafe has a casual setting, the adjoining Jo Jo’s Restaurant will be converted into a lounge bar, conference room, and function room scheduled for completion in February 2004.
It’s at that point Umberto Tinelli will most likely become a more permanent fixture.
“We have had Il Principe for three years and we do have people coming and asking us about buying it,” he says.
“Eventually I will get out of it and concentrate on the other side of this [Jo Jo’s function business].”
And while Jo Jo’s Cafe has only been open about two weeks it’s already finding favour with the locals.
“We were packed on Sunday morning,” Christian Tinelli says.
“We had only just opened and thought we might get 10 people in. It was so busy that dad was behind the counter making coffee.”
Jo Jo’s Cafe is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through to Sunday.