The new restaurant bar that is taking Milton Keynes by storm during lockdown
The Italian and Turkish restaurant that opened as a takeaway service has earned rave reviews despite opening during a pandemic.
Fratelli's is the culmination of a idea first formed in adolescence.
Gianluca Imbimbo and Jack Bej had been talking about the idea of owning their own restaurant since they were teenagers.
Twelve plus years later they've made that dream a reality. They now own Fratelli's, the new mediterranean restaurant open on Aylesbury Street in Bletchley, currently operating as a gourmet takeaway service in lockdown.
By 2020, the pair had saved up enough money to own a restaurant, whilst also accumulating the nous and knowhow to run their own business.
The duo spent the previous three years running a catering company preparing food for weddings, festivals and other one off events. Gianluca told the Milton Keynes Citizen: "Jack's been a head chef for eight years now, I've been a massive foodie all my life and grown up around the restaurant industry. We were desperate to do this and smash it out the park."
Everything was in place for them to open their own business and then the pandemic happened.
The restrictions of lockdown, combined with the logistical difficulties of starting a business from scratch slowed the pair down.
Gianluca added: "It was our first time doing this. We needed to get our electrical system up and running and that led to a road closure. We had no gaspipe so that was another headache we had to deal with."
Ultimately by the time Gianluca and Jack had a fully-functioning restaurant space, government restrictions and the rule of six meant they couldn't physically open their restaurant.
Instead of cursing their luck and timing, they pivoted to running a gourmet burger service at the start of the year.
A quick glance at Google Reviews suggests it seems to be going very well indeed three months in. Despite being in its infancy Fratelli's is riding a wave of five star reviews, with many claiming already that they serve 'the best burgers in MK'.
Fratelli's was also one of the most-nominated venues for a recent top 12 restaurants and pubs in Milton Keynes featurewe ran off the back of reader feedback on the MK Citizen site.
Gianluca has been blown away by the response, saying: "It's been wild. Amazing. We're having great fun and we're getting so many bookings, we're so busy already. We had a heart-to-heart thinking back to how we always said we wanted to do this, and just talked about how crazy it is to be doing it now. We're loving every minute of it."
Like a lot of small business dealing with the unprecedented challenges of Covid, the team are just finalising plans for how they'll reopen on April 12, when outdoor dining will be authorised. Gianluca plans to discuss just how much street space they can use for their outdoor dining service with the council.
At worst, there'll be outdoor heating, tables and chairs laid out, but Gianluca is keen to expand as much as possible and capitalise on this early buzz.
The other major excitement around Fratelli's is that there's still so much more to come. The official menu hasn't been launched yet, with premium burgers and sides still making up the pairs' limited lockdown menu.
Restaurants can reopen fully in May and Fratelli's will properly launch then with a breakfast, lunch and evening menu. There will also be a cocktail bar open at weekends.
Most importantly, the restaurant will be able to show it's true identity when reopened. Gianluca has promised at least one meal that will be unique to anything else in Milton Keynes. Fratelli's true USP of being a restaurant that mixes both Italian and Turkish food cultures will only truly be appreciated when this has been rolled out.
For now customers will have to settle for 'Milton Keynes' best burgers'. For updates on when the restaurant reopens and when indoor bookings will be available you can follow the restaurant on Instagram here. Be warned the mouth-watering food photos will make your stomach rumble.