Rialto Bar & Cafe: Falkirk institution throws party to mark 20th anniversary

A Falkirk institution will celebrate 20 years in business this weekend.

By Allan Crow
Monday, 15th November 2021, 3:13 pm

Rialto Bar and Cafe first opened its doors on November 15, 2001 after owner Colin Green was inspired by his time working in the bars of San Francisco and Glasgow’s Cafe Gandolfi

Determined to bring a slice of Californian living to Falkirk, Rialto launched in Vicar Street on the site of the former Salon Picture House.

Colin said: "I liked the feel of these old venues – Regal, Roxy, Palais - and worked with the Graven Images team to turn these ideas into a bar."

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Picture Michael Gillen

Originally selling only drinks and specialising in classic cocktails, over the years Rialto has evolved into a live music venue and is revered for its proper stone baked Italian pizza.

Leda Sweeney has worked at the venue since it opened.

Her daughter Indiana (30) grew up in the bar and got her first job there washing pots as a teenager.She is now the manager at Rialto's sister restaurant Sal's Famous in Manor Street - and her daughter Belle has started helping out.

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At the launch of Sal's Famous. New Pizzeria -Blair Nisbet, supervisor; Indiana Aitken, manager; Chelsea MacDonald, assistant manager and Leda Sweeney, head cook. Mural by Michael Corr. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Leda said: "I'm flabbergasted it's been 20 years, it's been an incredible journey with lots of laughs, stress and good times.

“Colin and I were friends before Rialto opened so I agreed to help out when he took on the bar, 20 years later, I'm still here.”

Colin comes from an entrepreneurial family with ties to Green's Hair also on Vicar Street and his sister owned Clare Green's Deli in the 1990s on the site where Sals' now sits.

He said: "It still feels like we’re just getting started.

"My favourite memories from over the years is just seeing where the regulars and the staff go. For lots of the staff, working in Rialto was their first job and they come back and tell me they learned so much from work.

“No job teaches you more about human nature than working in a pub!"

Rialto has also been the venue for the start of lots of relationships.

Amy and Craig Burke from Grangemouth met when Amy worked behind the bar and Craig DJd n 2010. They had their engagement there, married in 2012 and have sons Xander and Lennox.

Amy said: "We'll always have a soft spot for Rialto, and I'm sure when the boys are old enough, they will make friends and memories there like we did."

Colin also has ideas for a Tokyo-style jazz bar where bartenders play vinyl records, but admits he’s got enough on his plate right now

"After the last 18 months we have all experienced, humans need to connect again. We need to get out and man caves aren't the way. I've never seen one yet that I'd like to drink in.

"We will just need to keep adapting like we always have. We have never tried to be too clever or too slick, it's always about the people, the music and the good times."

Rialto is throwing a 20th birthday party for regulars and staff from over the years, contact their Facebook page or call (01324) 622344 to be added to the guestlist.

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