Party Season in Full Swing – Four Months Early

Vittoria and La Favorita Blog

Party Season in Full Swing – Four Months Early

Vittoria and La Favorita Blog

Staff at a popular restaurant have been amazed after their venue was fully booked out for this year’s most important festive party date – four months in advance.

Tony Crolla and his team at Vittoria in the centre of Edinburgh have been left scratching their head after the 225-cover restaurant was booked solid for the key December date by a spate of party organisers.

Now other restaurateurs are hoping the bookings rush will be repeated across the Capital – and help erase the memory of last year’s challenging Christmas period.

Family-run Italian restaurant Vittoria has become an Edinburgh institution since opening on the city’s Leith Walk almost 40 years ago. The city centre branch opened on George IV Bridge in May 2007.

Despite its impressive size – it is spread over two floors – the restaurant is already booked solid for the biggest date in the Christmas party season, December 18.

Owner Tony Crolla said: “I can’t quite get my head around it all. It’s still warm outside and there are people still on their summer holidays.

“There are also lots of events like The Edinburgh Festival, Halloween, St Andrew’s Day still to take place this year. So it seems crazy we’re having to think about Christmas already.

“I’m certainly not complaining. I don’t know why so many people have suddenly decided to get organised for Christmas, but the calls to the restaurant to book a table for December 18 have been non-stop.

“The last Friday before Christmas is always popular, but I’d never expect a restaurant the size of ours to be fully booked out in August.

“Many of the people calling are return customers from last year who were impressed by our high quality food, competitive pices and big portion sizes.

“Often people come to the restaurant for the first time with a Christmas party but quickly become regulars. At Vittoria we take the view our customers are for life not just to for Christmas.

“It’s important to offer a high standard of service all year round but it would be good news for everyone if there is a busy party season this year. We did well last Christmas, but I know the restaurant sector was hit hard by the banking crisis and credit crunch.”

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The hospitality sector suffered when the banking crisis hit in late 2008 marking the start of recession.

Edinburgh, with its dependence on banking and finance, was particularly hard hit. Pubs and restaurants were left reeling when RBS, HBOS and other big names pulled the plug on long-planned Christmas parties.

But there are signs that Scots are determined to enjoy their Christmas parties this year, regardless of the financial climate. Observers say the early bookings may well be a signal that revellers are giving themselves as much time as possible to plan and save.

Popular style bar chain Montpeliers (Edinburgh), which operates the best-known bars, hotels and restaurants in Edinburgh has also been delighted to see festive bookings coming in far earlier than in previous years.

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David Johnston, Development Director of the award-winning group, said Boutique hotel Tigerlilly and newly refurbished cocktail bar Rick’s had both already taken a number of festive bookings.

He added: “We weren’t quite sure what to expect for Christmas this year, but the signs are promising when we are already busy with calls to book Christmas party nights. That is cause to be optimistic.

“We have still to finalise our Christmas menu but I can guarantee turkey will feature on there somewhere. It’s fair to say Christmas is looking bright at Montpeliers and we have lots of plans to make eating out extra special up for diners over the festive season.

“It’s important to remember though that in tough times customers are looking for value for money experience, and in all our establishments we aim to offer a luxury service without the luxury price tag.”

Mile Quest, spokesman for UK body The Restaurant Association, also cautiously welcome news that canny Scots were already planning their festive parties and acknowledged it would be a welcome boost for the sector.

He added: “It has been a tough year for restaurants across the UK. Many have suffered due to the credit crunch. However, those that provide a value for money service and continue to look for ways to improve their standards during tough times will survive.”

Issued for Vittoria by Holyrood PR, PR in Scotland.