Glowbal Group has moved its Italian Kitchen restaurant several blocks south to 860 Burrard Street and is set to open the facility to the public for the first time tonight (November 16).
The space is where the restaurant Don Francesco’s had operated for 15 years until it closed this summer.
High rents on Alberni Street forced the move, with Italian Kitchen’s landlord asking to double the rent at the former location of 1037 Alberni Street, according to Glowbal Group owner Emad Yacoub.
Yacoub told Business in Vancouver that he spent about $1.5 million to transform the space with new floors, ceilings, millwork and other upgrades.
He will pay approximately $3,000 more in rent per month at the new location, which is all on one level. The former Italian Kitchen included upstairs space that had a lower lease rate than Yacoub is paying now.
The new restaurant, at about 4,500 square feet, is smaller than the approximately 5,000-square-foot location on Alberni Street but the two restaurants have approximately the same number of seats: 132 seats plus 30 patio seats at the new facility versus 150 seats plus 15 patio seats at the old location.
“When you walk into he restaurant, you’re going to get the feeling that the restaurant could be in Milan or Rome, but is probably in a nice hotel,” Yacoub said. “It’s not like an Italian restaurant with pictures on the wall, but very elegant in an old charm way.”
The menu has also changed because Yacoub took out the pizza ovens.
Instead, the new place’s focus will be pasta.
In the middle of the restaurant is a pasta-making area visible to diners.
“We’ve concentrated on the fresh pastas, instead of the dry pasta we were using,” said Yacoub. “80% of our pasta is made in-house now. That’s new. We also added some higher entrée items for people who don’t want to eat pasta.”
Yacoub also operates the seafood restaurant Coast on Alberni Street as well as the steakhouse Black+Blue, which is also on Alberni Street near where Italian Kitchen used to be.
He did not want his old Italian Kitchen restaurant to compete with those two restaurants so he kept steaks and seafood off the old Italian Kitchen’s menu.
Now that the restaurant is across Burrard Street from the Sutton Place Hotel, he believes that it makes sense to offer those entrées to customers.
Yacoub said he has also added more staff to the restaurant to improve service. He estimated the new restaurant’s staff count at about 110 people.
Glowbal Group operates 10 restaurants including eight in the city of Vancouver.