19/04/2005 - 22:00

Tinellis face fresh challenge with the reopening of Jojo’s

19/04/2005 - 22:00


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The reopening of Jojo’s in two weeks will mark the beginning of a new challenge for restaurateurs Umberto and Christian Tinelli and a fresh focus for the 1980s icon restaurant.

Tinellis face fresh challenge with the reopening of Jojo’s

The reopening of Jojo’s in two weeks will mark the beginning of a new challenge for restaurateurs Umberto and Christian Tinelli and a fresh focus for the 1980s icon restaurant.

Jojo’s, located on the Swan River foreshore at Nedlands, has one of the most beautiful locations of any Perth restaurant and has enjoyed considerable success for its fresh seafood and unique decor.

In recent years and with business slowing, the landmark venue shut its doors for 12 months before its owners, the King family, sold the concern to the Tinellis who, true to form, began a major transformation.

Renovations started late last year, beginning with an overhaul of the cafe. As Christian Tinelli explained to Gusto, the restaurant’s location makes it at once an exciting business opportunity but also a difficult one to get the best from.

Getting the project off the ground was made more difficult because the refurbishments were subject to approval from the Swan River Trust and the Nedlands Council. The site is also under local heritage listing.

“We had to wait for council approval to come through before we could start major renovations” Mr Tinelli says.

However he admits the almost five-month refit has been a speedy process largely due to his father’s contacts in the construction industry.

Included in the Tinellis’ vision for the future of Jojo’s is a total remodelling of the cafe into a stylish open-aired eatery. A broad menu will define this family oriented, casual face of Jojo’s.

But the restaurant has gone, replaced with an expansive function venue called Acqua Viva.

 “People are moving away from fine dining. Customers are wanting to go out three times a week and still pay the same price as they did dining out once,” Mr Tinelli says.

Similarly, he stresses, people are increasingly demanding high quality locations for organised events.

“Perth lacks a function venue with a location like this. Here we can cater for whatever the customer wants.”

Acqua Viva will comprise three autonomous sections. The first, a lounge, will act as a staging area for groups, either before or after events or as a location for business promotions and product launches.

The second section covers the main room. With a 120-seat capacity, the space is ideal for weddings and corporate events, according to Mr Tinelli.

The third section is a 25-seat enclave, spectacularly enclosed in glass, dividing it from the other parts of the complex. This section is earmarked for private functions.

Anticipating future business to come from overseas guests to Western Australia, Mr Tinelli has been busy staffing his kitchen with high-calibre internationally trained chefs.

As much as the renovations are changing the face of Jojo’s, Mr Tinelli describes the venture as a “new challenge” for one of Australia’s most successful industry families.

While Umberto will manage the overall operation, Christian plans to bring a modern touch to his father’s tradition of hospitality.

 “My father has a notion that a restaurant has a life of seven years. After that you either have to renovate it or change ownership entirely. This place was old and it needed a change. This is an opportunity to try something a little different” he says.

Acknowledging that his dad is still the boss, Mr Tinelli says he is learning a lot from working with his father.

“Dad has done restaurants for a long time. He has 26 years of experience,” Mr Tinelli says.

“But this project has been quite exciting; it’s a new venture for us both.”

The venture is indeed different, given this is the first restaurant Umberto Tinelli will manage as its pre-existing facade; “usually he starts from scratch”, Christian notes.

Acqua Viva has already received some bookings and is expected to become one of Perth’s most sought-after functions destinations.

Mr Tinelli predicts the new format will be a success and says it is pleasing to see some of the locals return to Jojo’s after its year off.

“Just look at the views,” he says.


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