Anxious wait for top restaurant’s big comeback

11-10-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. BAINSFORD. Gambero Rosso. Restaurant closed because of a kitchen fire. Due to re-open in November.
11-10-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. BAINSFORD. Gambero Rosso. Restaurant closed because of a kitchen fire. Due to re-open in November.

Falkirk’s most eagerly-awaited restaurant opening – or rather reopening – has been hit by “a small issue”.

And for many local cognoscenti of fine Italian cuisine that’s a bitter blow in a week when they were already making plans for meals at Gambero Rosso to celebrate events including Mother’s Day and Easter.

But on the other hand the owners of the much-loved, award-winning restaurant have made it clear that the grand relaunch - once the unexplained hitch has been sorted - is imminent.

Disaster struck the Burnbank Road venue on October 6 last year, when a kitchen blaze trashed the restaurant just weeks before the start of the busiest time of year.

Scores of lucrative bookings were lost, while anxious customers continued to bombard the owners with enquiries.

But while owners Antonio and Susan Pullucci did their best to remain optimistic the weeks, then months, dragged past.

Knocking up a kitchen for a mid-range cafe would take a week, but for a “serious” Italian restaurant with a hard-earned reputation to protect there was never any way the relaunch was going to be managed in a hurry.

January is a traditionally quiet time for the restaurant trade, and some assumed that spell would be followed by a grand reopening in February.

But almost half way through March there’s still no definite date – and a never-diminishing queue of people still desperate to book a table.

This week diners were given their first hint that the wait could soon be over, with news that the Pullucis had intended to reopen next weekend ... but for the “hitch”.

Dozens of Facebook comments continue to appear, including one on behalf of a young lad who wants nothing else for his birthday but a meal at Gambero Rosso.

They can possibly take some comfort from the fact that the owners and staff are just as keen to get back in business – with what will almost certainly be a better laid-out restaurant than before.

Trade insiders say possibly the only benefit of a fire is the opportunity to redesign the kitchen the way you really want it, something that’s impossible to do when the place is trading at full tilt.

It’s quite possible the decor has been reworked too, although - like everything else - that’s a secret for now.

Yesterday the restaurant team posted a short message: “Gambero and Rosso are waiting patiently too.

“We were hoping to be open by now, but unfortunately a small issue has come up.”

Hundreds of diners keen to be at the inevitable booked-out first night when the venue does reopen will just have to wait a little longer.

In June last year the restaurant became officially the best in the country after a double success at the Scottish Hospitality Awards.

The Gambero Rosso team attended the glittering awards ceremony in Glasgow to claim the Central Restaurant of the Year and the Overall Restaurant of the Year.

Based on a public vote, the awards commended the talented individuals and businesses dedicated in delivering constant professionalism, effort and enthusiasm to ensure impeccable service to their customers.