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Criniti’s will serve breakfast for the first time after the rescuer buys the collapsed restaurant chain

Criniti restaurants first start serving breakfast after the collapsed chain has been picked up by a successful South Australian cafe operator.

New owner Raj Patel will reduce the overcrowded Criniti menu, improve service and introduce other features from his existing range of popular Brunelli dining options.

Patel, who will keep the name of the Criniti, will reopen seven closed restaurants once the COVID-19 crisis is over, then plans to purchase five other closed sites.

He’s also looking for ways to honor $ 1.8 million gift cards that diners would otherwise have lost if the Criniti group collapsed last year.

“A lot needs to change,” Patel told Daily Mail Australia in his first interview since taking over the chain.

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Criniti restaurants first start serving breakfast after the collapsed chain has been picked up by a successful South Australian cafe operator. The national chain was founded in 2003 by Frank Criniti and his wife Rima (photo) with one restaurant in Parramatta

Criniti restaurants first start serving breakfast after the collapsed chain has been picked up by a successful South Australian cafe operator. The national chain was founded in 2003 by Frank Criniti and his wife Rima (photo) with one restaurant in Parramatta

Criniti's new owner, Raj Patel, will reduce the overflowing Criniti menu, improve service and bring other features of its existing range of successful Brunelli eateries to the outlets

Criniti's new owner, Raj Patel, will reduce the overflowing Criniti menu, improve service and bring other features of its existing range of successful Brunelli eateries to the outlets

Criniti’s new owner, Raj Patel, will reduce the overflowing Criniti menu, improve service and bring other features of its existing range of successful Brunelli eateries to the outlets

Diners said Criniti's tried to expand too quickly and lost business by charging outrageous prices for 'average' pizza and pasta. Raj Patel will reopen seven of the closed restaurants once the COVID-19 crisis is over and will then look to buy five other closed sites

Diners said Criniti's tried to expand too quickly and lost business by charging outrageous prices for 'average' pizza and pasta. Raj Patel will reopen seven of the closed restaurants once the COVID-19 crisis is over and will then look to buy five other closed sites

Diners said Criniti’s tried to expand too quickly and lost business by charging outrageous prices for ‘average’ pizza and pasta. Raj Patel will reopen seven of the closed restaurants once the COVID-19 crisis is over and will then look to buy five other closed sites

“Our first goal is service, service, service. Because that’s what Criniti missed for four or five years. No one provided service.

Secondly, we will start breakfast immediately after the takeover. That will be the Brunelli style and we are very famous for breakfast. ‘

The flamboyant Criniti equipment, including Ducati motorcycles suspended from the ceiling and Italian sports cars on the floor, would remain, at least for the time being.

Criniti’s ‘specialized’ in wood-fired pizzas, fresh pasta, steaks and ribs, seafood, desserts and pastries. Critics often claimed that the menu was bloated and was not good value for money.

“The menu is too big, too big,” said Mr. Patel. “I’ll work on it. I’ll change the menu in two, three months. I will work on the prize. ‘

Indian-born Patel came to Australia in 2008 and started working in a pizzeria in Adelaide the same year.

Indian-born Patel came to Australia in 2008 and started working in a pizzeria in Adelaide the same year. Brunelli restaurants (photo) serve Italian dishes, such as wood-fired pizza and pasta, as well as seafood, steaks, and burgers. Coffee and pastries are also popular

Indian-born Patel came to Australia in 2008 and started working in a pizzeria in Adelaide the same year. Brunelli restaurants (photo) serve Italian dishes, such as wood-fired pizza and pasta, as well as seafood, steaks, and burgers. Coffee and pastries are also popular

Indian-born Patel came to Australia in 2008 and started working in a pizzeria in Adelaide the same year. Brunelli restaurants (photo) serve Italian dishes, such as wood-fired pizza and pasta, as well as seafood, steaks, and burgers. Coffee and pastries are also popular

Ray Patel, the owner of New Criniti, introduces breakfast to the chain’s menu. “It’s going to be Brunelli style (photo) and we’re very famous for breakfast,” he said

The 34-year-old father of two took over three Brunelli restaurants in 2016 and has built three more since.

The six Brunelli restaurants serve Italian dishes, such as wood-fired pizzas and pastas, as well as steaks and burgers.

Cafe Brunella in Adelaide’s CBD goes through 100kg of coffee beans a week and is open 24 hours a day, but there are no plans for a Criniti’s not closing its doors.

Criniti’s, which once operated 13 restaurants in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, has been devastated in recent years by complaints of poor service and overpriced, impressive food.

Raj Patel purchased his first three Brunelli restaurants in 2016 and added three more

Raj Patel purchased his first three Brunelli restaurants in 2016 and added three more

Raj Patel purchased his first three Brunelli restaurants in 2016 and added three more

The chain went into voluntary management in November with $ 16.5 million in debt.

Five restaurants were closed at the time, a sixth closed in January, and the coronavirus seemed to have ended the last seven when they closed on April 3.

Patel will reopen Criniti’s restaurants in Castle Hill, Parramatta, Wetherill Park and Darling Harbor in Sydney, Kotara in Newcastle and Carlton and Southbank in Victoria.

The Manly outlet has been sold, but Patel would buy the Criniti sites in Woolloomooloo, Kirrawee, Wollongong, Chermside in Queensland and Carousel in Western Australia if he thought they were viable.

“I’ll see,” he said. “If it’s worth it, I’ll take them over.”

After studying the Criniti books and speaking to former staff, Mr. Patel found that the family-run chain had been poorly managed for years.

“That’s why they fell,” he said. “Too much overhead, too many people at headquarters.

“I ensure good management that ensures that every customer is satisfied.

The collapsed restaurant chain Criniti's is back in business as seven of the 13 restaurants reopen. Pictured: Bachelor star Noni Janur in one of the Criniti restaurants

The collapsed restaurant chain Criniti's is back in business as seven of the 13 restaurants reopen. Pictured: Bachelor star Noni Janur in one of the Criniti restaurants

The collapsed restaurant chain Criniti’s is back in business as seven of the 13 restaurants reopen. Pictured: Bachelor star Noni Janur in one of the Criniti restaurants

“The customer is a god to me. The customer is everything.

“There was no good service. It will happen when I first start. ‘

Patel read online reviews of Criniti’s customer experiences and was shocked at what he found. “It’s all bad reviews,” he said. “There is nothing positive.”

One diner complained that he had been ignored by the wait staff for so long that he called the restaurant where he was sitting to be served.

Patel also spent up to two hours a day talking to former employees on the phone about what went wrong.

“I am currently talking to more than 100 employees,” he said. “They know exactly what the situation was.

“For the former employees, they are welcome if they want to work well if they want to work.”

Patel said Criniti has been contracted with debts of about $ 1.8 million in gift cards – money spent by the failed company that customers would have expected to be lost.

“I also think of something to honor that,” he said.

Six of Criniti's Italian eateries (Parramatta shown) were closed after the company went into administration on November 19 with debts in excess of $ 16.5 million

Six of Criniti's Italian eateries (Parramatta shown) were closed after the company went into administration on November 19 with debts in excess of $ 16.5 million

Six of Criniti’s Italian eateries (Parramatta shown) were closed after the company went into administration on November 19 with debts in excess of $ 16.5 million

One idea, for example, was to accept a $ 100 gift card and spend five $ 20 cards.

Patel leads the Brunelli group from the same office chair he inherited when he bought his first restaurant, saying there would be no more bloated headquarters from now on.

Instead, he planned to consult with the staff at each facility about what would work best for their location and visit each restaurant regularly.

COVID-19 restrictions were the only factor standing in the way of chain reopening.

“As soon as the coronavirus disappears immediately, it is open,” said Mr. Patel. “It will be in two weeks.”

Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants said in November that high overheads and low consumer spending had contributed to the financial distress of the “well-known, well-loved” restaurant chain.

“There is some magic in the name of the Criniti, with the early locations especially in the minds of many Australians reaching almost iconic status,” said administrator Graeme Beattie.

The Italian restaurant chain posted to Instagram in April saying they would return

The Italian restaurant chain posted to Instagram in April saying they would return

The Italian restaurant chain posted to Instagram in April saying they would return

Frank Criniti founded Rima Criniti's in 2003 with his wife

Frank Criniti founded Rima Criniti's in 2003 with his wife

Rima Criniti and her husband Frank were only 23 when they opened their first restaurant

Rima Criniti and her husband Frank were only 23 when they opened their first restaurant

Founded in 2003, the Criniti Chain was managed by Frank Criniti (left) and his wife Rima (right) until they divorced in 2009 and he took charge

“The level of brand recognition and affinity is extraordinary for a small company of this size, and we are confident that smart investors will take the name further.”

Last week he was delighted to have found a buyer.

“The retail environment has never been more challenging, so we’re thrilled to be reviving a downsized Criniti’s,” said Beattie.

“Our faith has been rewarded. This is a remarkable story of retail survival and a testament to the strength of Criniti’s brand name. ‘

The chain’s sudden collapse in November came as a shock to industry rivals, but people who had eaten there said it didn’t surprise them at all.

Hundreds of negative online reviews litter the internet, highlighting the restaurant’s ‘tacky decor’, ‘poor service’ and ‘disgusting food’.

Diners said Criniti’s tried to expand too quickly and lost business by charging outrageous prices for ‘average’ pizza and pasta.

“When you hang a $ 120,000 Ducati from the ceiling and park an Aventador in your store for the show, but have a very low quality service and still expect high prices and flashy s *** for repeat business? one person wrote online.

“They were always a sad imitation of real Italian food … it was only a matter of time,” wrote another.

A third said the menu – with a chicken schnitzel and chips for $ 38 – was enough to ever make them go out again at Criniti’s.

Founded in 2003, the chain was managed by Frank Criniti and his wife Rima until their divorce in 2009 and he took charge.

Frank was disqualified from managing companies for five years in 2018 due to his involvement with seven other failed companies.

A year earlier, he told the New South Wales Supreme Court that some of his lenders had used Comanchero bicycles to threaten to shoot at his restaurants.

Rima told Daily Mail Australia: ‘While I left the company almost a decade ago, I continued to dine at Criniti with my children and have always enjoyed the food and the experience.

“However, it takes more than great food and hospitality to make a restaurant group a success.”

Patel now hopes to calm Criniti’s down.

HOW CRINITI’S RESTAURANTS AGAIN, FALL AND ROSE

Criniti’s was founded in 2003 in Parramatta in the western suburbs of Sydney by Frank Criniti and his wife Rima. They were both only 23

The menu is designed to combine traditional Southern Italian dishes and modern Australian dishes.

The Crinitis opened their second eatery in Darling Harbor in 2009, the year Rima left the company. The company became their showpiece.

Criniti’s became famous for their flashy equipment with Italian motorbikes and sports cars.

More NSW stores followed at Woolloomooloo Wharf, Kirrawee and Manly in Sydney, Wollongong and Kotara in Newcastle.

Criniti’s spread across the highway to Chermside in Brisbane, Cannington in Perth and Southbank and Carlton in Melbourne.

Some customers have complained that the quality of the food and service declined, while prices continued to rise as the company grew.

On November 19, 2019, the chain went into voluntary administration and five of the 13 restaurants were closed. A sixth was closed in January.

Coronavirus seemed to have killed the last six restaurants, until the Brunelli group intervened and bought them in South Australia.

Brunelli owner Ray Patel reopens stores in Castle Hill, Parramatta, Wetherill Park, Darling Harbor, Kotara in Newcastle, as well as Carlton and Southbank in Victoria.

The Manly outlet has been sold, but Patel would buy the Criniti sites in Wollomooloo, Kirrawee, Wollongong, Chermside (Queensland) and Carousel (Western Australia) if he thought they were viable.

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