Serving up inspiration
In his heyday, Fosco Nannini owned a string of restaurants that he made successful through hard work.
Il Classico Boss is his way of keeping his story alive for his granddaughters Valentina and Ines, but he hopes it also serves as inspiration to others.
“Anywhere you go in restaurants here you do not see Bermudians, it’s mostly foreigners,” said Mr Nannini, who arrived on the island in 1967.
“When I came to Bermuda, I worked at Hamilton Princess, at Waterlot, I worked everywhere — mainly with Bermudians. Now you go out and see Italians, Germans, Filipinos, not so many Bermudians.
“I made a good living out of it and in my book I try to convince the younger generation to get involved. Bermudians should not be scared of being in the service area.”
He describes Il Classico as “a book about service”, calling it “a good set-up guide” for anyone interested or already in the hospitality industry.
Apart from his own “ambition and achievement” it highlights the difficulty of always being on the front line and gives “excellent tips on how to succeed in this industry for a very long time”.
“Everything is well documented to give everyone a clear insight into my classically Mediterranean roots,” Mr Nannini said. “In the book I talk about my journey from the countryside, through hard work, and also my experiences across several businesses.”
His advice to “busboys, waiters, waitresses, chefs, managers, cleaners and all in that trade” is that they stay active, learn all they can from industry veterans, be frugal and reinvest, know how to leverage their time and do things that make them happy.
Originally from Siena, Italy, Mr Nannini would likely have followed in his father’s footsteps were it not for his uncle.
“When I was younger, my father was a farmer. I didn’t like what he was doing. My uncle was in the service area.
“I always admired him and from there got involved in the restaurant business at 16 and went to Germany.”
He stayed there for three years and then moved to Switzerland for work.
His next step was Bermuda, where he “got a job at the Hamilton Princess with minimal English”.
Now 76, he’s called the island home for 52 years and has Bermuda status.
In addition to his restaurants, which all fell under the Nannini Group of Companies, he ran Nannini Imports. “I’ve got two kids and two grandkids,” said Mr Nannini, who married his Bermudian wife, Sharon, in 1979. “The book is for [them], something so they will remember what Grandpa did; so they can learn something from Grandpa — I hope.
“I want them to know that if you put in the hard work, you can get the benefit. If you’re good at what you are doing, if you put your heart into it, it’s always good.
“It doesn’t matter what you do — whether you’re a waiter, a chef or a mechanic — but you have to put your heart into it.”
He spent 15 years with the Princess and then in 1980 bought his first restaurant, Il Palio in Sandys.
He expanded into the industry with Pasta Pasta in St George’s, Pasta Basta in Hamilton and Pirate’s Landing and Nannini Haagen-Dazs in Dockyard. At one point, his staff numbered 33.
“You do have to work weekends, split-shifts and holidays,” said Mr Nannini, who is now only involved with Nannini Haagen-Dazs. “I enjoy doing it. I enjoy being with people. The younger generation want to be where it’s at.
“They want to be out enjoying the weekend. But I came here and I was quite successful.
Mr Nannini explained: “I don’t see why Bermudians don’t click [into that]. You make good tips as well.”
Mr Nannini added: “I wanted to write this book to convince the younger generation that being in the service industry is not that bad.
“You’re meeting tons of people, you make money. I made my living that way for many years and so the book is dedicated to the hotel industry, the service industry.”
The idea for Il Classico came from Shelly Wilks, a longtime staff member and amateur photographer who encouraged him to put pen to paper.
“I did not write it myself,” Mr Nannini said. “I dictated it to her.
“She worked for me for 20 years and saved lots of pictures and was able to put it together. It was her idea I should write something from my past.
“It took a year to put things together and I now have an online printing company that can do the book and am very happy with the final product.”
• Fosco Nannini’s book, Il Classico Boss, will publish in May. He hopes to share his story with people in the hotel industry and students at Bermuda College at that time. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; 334-7498
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