Legendary Vancouver restaurateur Umberto Menghi plans to open his newest restaurant, Giardino, June 30 following about nine months of renovations costing more than $1 million.
The 5,000-square-foot, 240-seat restaurant at 1328 Hornby Street is about half a block north of a site where Menghi operated restaurants for 40 years.
First came Umberto, in 1973, which was in a yellow heritage house. The next year Menghi opened the seafood restaurant La Cantina on the north side of his Umberto restaurant. He then built Il Giardino south of the yellow house and opened that restauant in 1976. Il Giardino then closed in 2013.
“It’s a complex machine opening a restaurant,” Menghi told Business in Vancouver in the morning of June 29. He had originally intended to open the restaurant in the spring .
“You have a clientele who phone you and are eager to come and see the place and they say ‘Oh, how much I miss you.’ So, I hope they mean it.
I’ve spent enough money.”
Menghi estimated that the renovation cost for the restaurant portion of the site would be more than $400 per square foot. Some of the site’s 5,000 square feet is storage, however, and Menghi did not know exactly how much he spent on the renovation.
Vaulted ceilings, wood beams, Tuscan tiles and hand-painted artwork were all part of the makeover.
The site has a history of restaurant longevity.
Although Glowbal Group owner Emad Yacoub operated a deli dubbed IK2Go for a relatively short period of time, the previous tenant, Mona’s, was in the space for decades.
Across the street, however, restaurants have come and gone with regularity.
About 80 of the restaurant’s seats will be on a patio at the back of the restaurant.
“Giardino means garden,” Menghi said. “It would be a phony deal if you don’t have a garden when you call the place the garden.”