A chance conversation while out with friends has led to a South Tyneside businesswoman taking over a town centre restaurant.
Kerrie Katopodis is the new owner of the Italian Stove, in Ocean Road, South Shields.
The trade is completely different to when I was originally part of it eight years ago, I’ve had to learn everything all over again.Kerrie Katopodis
Mrs Katopodis, who already owns nearby Club Del Mar, had been looking for an opportunity to get back into the restaurant trade when the opportunity come up in December.
Mrs Katopodis said: “I’ve always wanted to go back into the restaurant trade.
“We had been out for dinner at the Italian Stove with friends when one of them mentioned the restaurant was being put up for sale.
“I had just bought a shop and I was busy getting that ready to launch so I had hoped to have been able to take over after Christmas.
“But everything needed to be done beforehand, so I just went for it.”
She added: “I was given the keys to both places on the same day and it has been really busy getting them both ready.”
The restaurant has undergone a complete revamp with only the name remaining unchanged.
An a la carte menu has also been created along with a happy hour. Customer feedback forms are also given out, so any improvements can be acted on promptly.
The restaurant’s previous staff have also been retained.
Mrs Katopodis added: “It has been really hard. At first, I thought what have I done? But now I’m happy I jumped at the chance of taking it over.
“The trade is completely different to when I was originally part of it eight years ago, I’ve had to learn everything all over again.
“And there is also Facebook and Tripadvisor now, which weren’t around before.
“We have changed the decor of the restaurant completely, it is now more funky but is still in keeping with the Italian theme.
“The staff are also starting to settle in as I know there was a lot of uncertainty.”
Following feedback from customers, Mrs Katopodis has also improved the baby changing facilities with nappies and wipes being made available.
The Italian Stove is open seven days a week from 4pm to 10pm.
To book a table at the Italian Stove or for more information, call 454 3780 or visit Facebook page Italian Stove.