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Tom Moore’s owner Fiocca pays attention to detail

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It’s not uncommon to call Tom Moore’s Tavern in Hamilton Parish for reservations and get the owner Bruno Fiocca on the other end of the line. When you dine he is usually hovering somewhere on the periphery. If a patron seems unhappy, Mr Fiocca materialises to ask how the meal is going.

In an interview with

The Royal Gazette he admitted the he is “very” picky about how his restaurant is run. It is probably this factor that won him this year’s Visitor Industry Partnership (VIP) award for general administration.

“Commitment is the secret to a successful restaurant,” Mr Fiocca said. “There is a lot of sacrifice. I have been in this business for a long time. Holidays don’t exist unless you go on vacation. Otherwise, every day is a working day. You have to sacrifice things like going out on the weekends.

“I run my business the same way I did when I started out. I am always there. I am always visible. I am on the floor every night, practically. I take my own reservations. I do all the daily business. It is a bit unusual, because I know a lot of owners are not very visible. Me, I am different. I like to be there and see my customers and see what is happening and that everything is fine.”

Mr Fiocca was born in Bologna, Italy. He started out his career working in restaurants and hotels in Europe and England, before he got a job in the Bahamas. In 1967 he was working for a company in the Bahamas that sent him to Bermuda on a six month contract to open the Tiara Room at the Hamilton Princess, (now the Fairmont Hamilton Princess). He loved Bermuda, and left at the end of his contract with deep reluctance. As soon he could, he returned to take a job as assistant maître d’ at the newly opened Southampton Princess Hotel in 1972 (now the Fairmont Southampton Hotel). He was working as Maître d’ of the Newport Room when the Tom Moore’s Tavern property became available for purchase.

Mr Fiocca and a partner bought the restaurant and four acres of property 29 years ago. Tom Moore’s Tavern is one of the oldest buildings on the Island. It was built in 1652 by the Trott family. It was originally called Walsingham House after

Sea Venture passenger Robert Walsingham.

Its current name comes from Tom Moore, the Irish poet, who lived in the house for the year of 1804 when he was Registrar of the Court of Vice-Admiralty. It has now been a restaurant for over a century and has played host to famous visitors such as Prince Charles who ate there in 1970.

“The challenge of running a restaurant in a building this old is that it always has to be maintained in pristine condition,” said Mr Fiocca. “We also have the grounds to be kept up, the hedges and lawn cut and the road maintained. When we bought it the building was in very bad condition.

“It had been closed for five years. When we took over we were a little bit scared because there was a lot of work, but when we reopened it was back to its splendour. Everyone was very happy about that. It has been a success since. Obviously, business is not the best right now, because of the economy. We always hope for a better tomorrow.”

In September 2003, Tom Moore’s Tavern took a bad hit during Hurricane Fabian. While the centuries-old structure remained sound during the 11 hours of wind that came with the storm, at least three feet of water filled the lower floor of the building. The kitchen, in particular, was badly damaged.

“It took us six months to rebuild and repair,” said Mr Fiocca. “We were like the phoenix rising from the ashes. In 2004 we reopened again for the second time.”

Years 2006 and 2007 were good for the restaurant, and Mr Fiocca did not start to feel the full impact of the economic downturn until 2009.

“In 2010 and 2011 there was very little improvement,” he said. “In 2012 there was a little improvement. This year started off pretty good in February and March, but April has been very slow for us.”

What keeps them going through the hard times is their stellar reputation on the Island and their loyal customer base. They do a lot of private parties and weddings. They can seat 100 people indoors and 160 outdoors on the terrace.

Over the years he has seen his customers change. Before it was traditional to wear a jacket and tie to a nice restaurant like Tom Moore’s. Now, the restaurant has relaxed a bit and has changed their dress code to elegant casual.

“Some people don’t even own a jacket and tie any longer, especially the younger people,” said Mr Fiocca. “The older people still come with a jacket and tie; that is nice and it makes me smile. We do have a lot of repeat customers. We try to keep it that way.”

This year was the first year he won the VIP award, although he has been to the awards banquet on many occasions as a visitor.

“I was very surprised,” he said. “They sent someone around to interview me and I thought they had the wrong person. I said, what are you doing here? Are you looking for somebody, and then it was me.”

He thanked his staff for all their support.

“I just want to say that my staff is very good,” he said. “I would also like to thank whoever put my name forward. I don’t know who they are, yet. I would also like to thank the people at the VIP Awards.”

For more information about the restaurant see www.tommoores.com.

VIP Award winner: Bruno Fiocca of Tom Moore’s Tavern (Photo by Akil Simmons)
VIP Award winner: Bruno Fiocca of Tom Moore’s Tavern (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published April 26, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 26, 2013 at 7:32 am)

Tom Moore’s owner Fiocca pays attention to detail

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