Investment boost gives restaurant appetite for expansion

A family-run restaurant in Albrighton is celebrating its first birthday in style after completing a £30,000 investment drive that has created an outside courtyard area, a brand refresh and the launch of a new menu.

Al Sorriso, which is run by husband and wife team Luciana Palmieri and Mark Smith, has emerged from Covid-19 with plans to become a destination dining venue for Wolverhampton and Shropshire.

The duo managed to introduce a successful takeaway service during the pandemic and this, combined with small business grants, gave it the breathing space it needed.

“We had only been open for six months when Covid-19 struck and we had to temporarily close the business. It’s not a nice feeling and we were planning for the worst,” said Luciana.

“Our thinking quickly changed to…right, we’re going to survive this and come out of this stronger. Accessing the grant was fantastic and gave us some much-needed breathing space and the chance to create a takeaway offer that has really taken off during lockdown.

“Initially, this was just a few options, but due to demand we increased the menu to include Sunday dinners, a street food night and cocktails. The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme has also been a commercial godsend and means we have been extremely busy since we reopened.”

She went on to add: “We used the downtime to really make the restaurant ours with interior improvements, the new courtyard dining experience and kick-starting a major new marketing drive to put us on the map with people outside of the village.”

Al Sorriso, which can seat 45 diners under Covid-19 secure guidelines, has appointed Eleven10Creative to help it develop new branding, website, marketing material and a string of social media campaigns.

Mark added: “When you start a business, you know the first year is always going to be up and down, but nobody could have prepared us for what the last twelve months threw at us.

“We came through it all though, thanks in part to the family spirit the restaurant was built on.

“Now It’s all about the future and we want to be recognised as a destination dining venue in Wolverhampton and Shropshire and the new menu and identity will help tell our story and what makes us different.”