A GLASGOW-BASED chain of family-run Italian restaurants has announced plans to expand into the rest of the UK.

Tony Macaroni has said its plans to establish franchises throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland represent a potential £50 million investment in the UK’s hospitality industry over the next three years.

Tony Macaroni boss Sep Marini says the move will create up to 2000 much-needed new jobs in the UK food and drink sector and 100 new restaurants. He added that the result would be a “Tony Macaroni restaurant in every UK town and city”.

Tony Macaroni is part of the Marini family’s Viva Italia Group, along with Neapolitan pizza restaurant Mozza, the art deco cafe and restaurant Nardini, and Edinburgh’s Bar 1821.

Marini said he is “looking for people with ambition and keen business brains that can take on the values of the Tony Macaroni brand and build on its huge success”.

Tony Macaroni opened its first restaurant in 2007 and now has 19 restaurants under its umbrella. It currently employs 500 people across Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Marini added that, while the food and drink sector has suffered a huge financial hit because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is already starting to show positive signs of growth as lockdown measures ease.

“The next year to 18 months will be exciting for everyone at Tony Macaroni. We are perfectly positioned to come out of the Covid-19 storm stronger and better than ever.

“Our restaurants have already seen pleasing levels of trade since lockdown began to be lifted because of the strength of our brand and the quality of food and service,” he said.

“Ultimately, I want the brand to become a prized fixture in every city and large town across the UK – and whilst we will continue to open more restaurants ourselves across Scotland, the time is right for us to offer experienced franchise operators, with the best locations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the chance to bring this much loved brand into their portfolios.”

He added: “Our brand is much-loved throughout Scotland and our restaurants thrive because of their authenticity, consistency, superior menu, fresh ingredients and proven business model.”

Tony Macaroni won the Best Italian Restaurant & Pizza Chef of the year at the Pizza and Pasta Industry Awards in 2018.

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Its menu was designed by multi-award winning consultant Chef Fabio Campoli. Fabio is one of Italy’s most respected chefs and has been presenting serious food shows on TV for 20 years.

Marini said that the widespread availability of quality sites in city centres, retail parks and shopping malls – the three key areas Tony Macaroni’s franchise model is targeting – means the opportunity is there for enterprising individuals to successfully launch their own franchise.

“Our new franchise model includes making sure new restaurants only open in prime locations, so that they have every opportunity to succeed. Our track record of transforming unit sales means there has never been a better time to invest in this fantastic brand.”

Anyone keen to talk about UK franchise opportunities with Tony Macaroni should call 0131 664 1218 or email Stephen Lampshire at steve@platinumwave.co.uk