By Glen KorstromThu Jan 30, 2014 10:59am PST
Legendary Vancouver restaurateur Umberto Menghi plans to reopen his iconic Il Giardino restaurant half a block from the location where it operated for 37 years before closing last summer.
“I hope the city will give me the permits,” Menghi told Business in Vancouver January 29. “We’ve made our application.”
Menghi has made a tentative offer to Glowbal Group owner Emad Yacoub to take over space at 1328 Hornby Street that Yacoub currently occupies and operates a fast-casual Italian food bistro named IK2GO (Italian Kitchen to go). Yacoub also operates a commissary and has other corporate space at that site, which was Mona’s for decades before that restaurant closed a few years ago.
Menghi said if his bid to take over that space is unsuccessful, his Plan B is to find another site. Yacoub sounded positive toward the offer, however. He told BIV that he and Umberto are still “ironing out” a deal and that he has yet to receive a firm offer.
“[1328 Hornby Street] is similar square footage at about 5,000 square feet,” Menghi said. “It also has some outdoor space for dining and that’s what Il Giardino means – eating in the garden.”
Menghi, who is 67 years old, never really retired. He spent the last seven months traveling to places such as Russia, the Balkans, Hawaii and Tuscany, where he once operated a cooking school.
All the while, however, he has operated two Whistler restaurants: Trattoria di Umberto and Il Caminetto.
“I have a lot of energy – more now than before because I had a rest,” he said while driving back to Vancouver from those restaurants.
Last January, Seacliff Properties bought the former Il Giardino restaurant site, on the corner of Hornby Street and Pacific Boulevard, from W.P.J. McCarthy and Co. owner William McCarthy as well as several similar sized lots directly north of the restaurant from Menghi.
The high-end restaurant was well known in part because it operated in a 125-year-old yellow heritage house, known as Leslie House.