You could say it truly is the end of an era. Umberto Menghi has announced that he will close much celebrated Il Giardino (1382 Hornby St., Vancouver, 604-669- 2422) later this spring. The restaurant, which Menghi founded 37 years ago, has long been a favourite haunt of Vancouver’s movers and shakers. Its closure comes as no surprise: Menghi— who will continue to operate his Whistler restaurants–has been trying to develop the property with a different concept for several years now.
However, in the end, he decided to sell the building and land at the corner of Hornby and Pacific to a developer who will build condominiums. The closing is one of a series of high-profile demises that have accompanied the shift from white linen dining based on European traditions to less formal–and less expensive–restaurants.
Mengi ruled for more than three decades as one of Vancouver’s true original culinary superstars. He developed his own brand that incorporated at one time a cooking show with significant audience, a series of popular cookbooks and (okay, less successful) chain of 14 fast food pastarias. In all he founded 10 restaurants, as well as his Villa Delia… His highly successful business model predated by several years the now familiar practice of branded chefs and restaurateurs.
The announcement leaves plenty of time for those who haven’t experienced Il Giardino to do so, including as part of Dine Out Vancouver.
Here’s the full release…
For Immediate Release January 7, 2013
Il Giardino to bid a fond farewell this spring
Umberto Menghi thanks all his loyal friends, diners, and staff for the support over the past 37 years
Vancouver, B.C. – Il Giardino, one of Vancouver’s founding Italian restaurants, will close its doors this spring, marking an end to the famous restaurant corner of Hornby and Pacific Boulevard that began in 1976. A developer has purchased the space, and condominiums are expected to take over the location.
The restaurant will continue to operate for dinner service only until this spring.
“It was a very bittersweet decision to make, as Il Giardino is one of my proudest career achievements,” explains Menghi. “The staff and loyal guests at Il Giardino are like family to me, but I’m happy we are leaving on a high note. And, that diners will still get a chance to experience Il Giardino once or twice more before we close and say one last goodbye. I’m deeply grateful for the loyalty and longstanding support of my gracious staff and chefs. Many special thanks to Executive Chef Peter, Manager Bobby (aka Bobino), and our Sommelier Ludwik, who have all been with the team for years.”
Menghi, now aged 65, will continue to operate his two Whistler restaurants: Il Caminetto and Trattoria di Umberto. He is renowned for bringing Northern Italian cuisine to Vancouver and has helped shape the global cuisine destination that Vancouver now represents. He has authored five books on Italian cooking, starred in a TV series on cooking called Elegant Appetite, founded 14 Umbertino fast food pasta and pizza emporiums, over 10 Italian restaurants and Villa Delia, a cooking school and guest villa in Ripoli near Umberto’s birthplace near Pisa, Italy.
Menghi is cause celebre as a proprietor and maitre’d of his restaurants. Many guests have grown to know him well and appreciate his passion and love for food. Past diners include film and music artists, as well as state dignitaries. Menghi attended Hotel School in Rome and went on work in France, United Kingdom and eventually settled in Canada in 1967 at Montreal Expo before settling in Vancouver soon after to open Casanova Ristorante
Il Giardino is located at 1380 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC. Umberto looks forward to hosting and continuing his passion for Italian cuisine through his two restaurants in Whistler, B.C.
~ Tim Pawsey
*Article originally published at HiredBelly.com