Two old friends who have become the Ant and Dec of the Italian restaurant trade are celebrating, after once again landing top jobs with the same company.
Just like Geordie TV presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who have worked together since the age of 13, Gavin Ayres and Jim Smith have been virtually inseparable since they both started work at the same Italian eatery more than 20 years ago.
Now the pair, both from Newcastle, who are familiar faces to Tyneside diners, having worked at some of the city’s top restaurants, are about to perform the double act of their careers.
Gavin, 39, has been appointed general manager of Scalini’s, Great North Road, Gosforth, while 38-year-old Jim takes on the same role at Scalini’s Jesmond branch, at Osborne Road.
“We didn’t plan to stick together,” said Gavin, “it’s just happened that way. We both started out at Uno’s at The Quayside and we’ve stuck with Italian restaurants ever since.
“Getting identical jobs with Scalini’s is the icing on the cake though, although I’m pretty sure there will be some friendly rivalry as we’ll each be determined to make our restaurant the very best.”
Gavin will lead a team of 25 at Gosforth, while Jim will head up a 35-strong workforce at Jesmond and both have local families firmly in their sights.
“Both are restaurants in the true Italian tradition,” said Jim, “in that they embrace diners of all ages and we want to build on their reputations for superb food for all the family.
“Any good restaurant is at the heart of its community – it’s where families celebrate, laugh and make memories and that is very important to us.
“However, it is primarily about excellent food and service and with almost half a century in this business behind us, Gavin and I will be ensuring those are paramount.”
Atul Malhotra, director of the Malhotra Group, which owns the Scalini’s restaurants, said: “We are delighted to have Jim and Gavin on board.
“They not only bring a wealth of experience but they are much loved and respected by lovers of Italian food throughout the city, who I’m sure will join me in welcoming them.”
For further information about Scalini’s at Jesmond and Gosforth, visit www.scalinisrestaurant.co.uk