Stour Valley Estates

Locals love the Cucina Caraccio

When Richard and Elaine Caraccio decided to open a restaurant they were following in a long family tradition. Richard's grandfather had come over from Italy in the late 1800's and set up business in London, and his father ran a sea front cafe on the Marine Terrace at Margate for many years from the 1930's, with their own ice-cream a speciality.

Cucina Caraccio opened in Palace Street, Canterbury in 2008 and is now a thriving business, with a host of loyal local customers to complement the tourist trade. "We focus on offering excellent quality and service and keep the menu fresh by changing it every 2-3 weeks. The positive comments we are getting on Trip Advisor suggest we are doing the right thing!" said Richard.

"We do a wonderful range of cakes, all made by Elaine from fresh ingredients, and our light lunches are proving very popular. The cafe is intensely busy for 2-3 hours in the middle of the day, and it's very gratifying to see the regulars returning time after time." In fact the decision to go into catering was a late one for Richard; he had already been running a very successful hairdressing salon in the St Dunstan area of Canterbury for 30 years. "I always knew I would return to the family roots," Richard went on, "and when I was able to hand over the hairdressing business to my son, Elaine and I were free to start our new adventure."

Nevertheless it took 5 years for them to find exactly the right spot for the restaurant. "We wanted to stay in the area we know so well and where we have a lot of good friends," explained Richard. "We also wanted to be slightly off the main city centre streets to appeal more to the local community."

"We believe that not everyone wants to eat in a chain cafe so they're happy to walk those few extra steps to find something just that little bit different. Palace Street is still at the heart of the city so we get plenty of passing trade."

The shop had previously been used as a photographers shop and studio so it needed a complete refurbishment. The landlord, Tony Skelton of Stour Valley Estates, was on hand to discuss Richard and Elaine's plans. "Tony is local too and I found him very sympathetic and easy to deal with during the building works, and we have a great relationship on-going. He's very approachable and supportive," said Richard.

The years since 2008 have not been the best time to be running a business but having survived these tough years Cucina Caraccio are confident that they will be around for many years to come. "Generally we're only open during the day but once a month we also have a speciality dining evenings and they always sell out. The poor weather during the Spring and the general economic situation has made 2012 a more difficult year, but as long as customers keep coming back we know we’re doing things right."

You can find out more about Cucina Caraccio on their website www.cucina-caraccio.co.uk. For table reservations phone 01227 472401.

September 2012

Cucina Caraccio, Canterbury