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Manicomio opens in the City

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Zarach and her husband, Andrew, launched the first Manicomio restaurant in Chelsea five years ago on the back of their Italian food and drink importation and distribution business, Machiavelli. Turnover for that operation is now between £3m and £4m. But Zarach always wanted to open a small place in the City “where we’d do very nice, high-quality fast food”.

It took nine months to convince her husband it was a good idea but three weeks ago, the second Manicomio restaurant opened its doors. It has a ground floor café with takeaway facilities, a first floor restaurant, and a second floor bar.

Zarach says: “We found the wonderful Norman Foster building on Gutter Lane, which is behind Gresham Street, by chance. I fell in love with it. I said to the agent ‘Which floor do you want us to take?’ He said ‘The whole building’.”

The Royal Bank of Scotland provided funding support for the restaurant. Zarach notes: “We have a very good relationship with our bank manager. I think it’s hard to find a bank that believes in business, especially today.”

Neither of the Zarachs are Italian but that doesn’t seem to matter. “I knew what tasted good and I knew what I wanted to bring in,” she says. “I spent the time looking for interesting products and very early on, a lot of food chefs believed in me, realised I was serious and that I really knew something about the products.

"The main aim is to stick to quality, no matter what the sums say. I didn’t want to bring in second best.”

Zarach’s husband looks after the money side of things leaving her to stay on top of quality and service. “If you keep worrying about the money, you take your eye off the ball with regards service and product and then the money won’t come in,” she says.

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