When we say that San Remo is a family run business, we really mean it. The business as it is today is managed by Pino and Louise from the head office at Black Park, but it's origins go back much further to the early 1960s when Pino's father, Vittorio, arrived from Italy aged 18 to take up a sponsored job as a hospital boiler stoker.
Being a stoker was hard and hot work, which was not particularly well paid and it wasn't long before Vittorio realised that there were better and more lucrative ways of making a living and so he acquired a barrow and began selling hot dogs. Pretty soon he was making several times his previous wages and before long a second barrow was added.
After that, an ice-cream van followed and this carried the San Remo name - the first time it had been used and the origin of the name of the modern business.
In the early 1980s, Vittorio and his wife Graziella took over the running of the café in Battersea Park. Pino, their younger son, grew up in the café helping his parents and learning how to run a successful café business.
The family ran the café for several years until the lease expired. However, this was not the end of the story.
In 2004 Pino acquired the lease of the café at Streatham Common and so a new San Remo chapter began. The Tooting Bec Common café followed in 2005.
Soon after, Pino and Louise met and in 2009 they took over the running of the Café at Black Park, followed in 2010 by the Kiosk at Black Park and the slightly larger Langley Park Tearooms nearby.
In 2011, the café at the newly completed park at Northala Fields was added to the growing portfolio, followed in 2013 by the new café at Ruislip Lido. A further addition, in 2014, was the café at Brent Lodge (Bunny) Park, which opened in August after undergoing extensive refurbishment as part of becoming a Café San Remo branch. The Black Park Café also received a major refurbishment.
In 2015, expanding out of the London area, 2 completely refurbished kiosks in Cutteslowe and Florence Parks in the Oxford area were opened as San Remo branches with adjacent mini-golf courses. The course at Cutteslowe Park was completely re-laid and opened as "Crazy Croc's" for the following year. In 2016 a further branch was added in the new Rose Hill Community Centre in Oxford and the building in Langley Park received a major expansion and upgrade.
In addition to the cafés, the outdoor catering side of the business also grew over the years and now includes a fleet of modern ice-cream vans, two vintage ice-cream vans and several catering trailers. During the summer months, these can regularly be found at the various parks supporting the cafés and throughout the year at events further afield including fairs, corporate events, festivals and shows.
Several members of the family, including Pino's parents, are actively involved in the business and may be found in the cafés, ice-cream vans and trailers, as the pictures on this page illustrate.
In addition to overseeing the business as a whole; Pino and Louise can often be found in the Black Park Café serving coffee and cake to their customers. They are supported in each branch by a hand-picked team of 'hands-on' café managers, all of whom share the same core business values.
In an age when many of the cafés to be found in our communities are part of impersonal chains run by senior management in offices that are often far removed from the customers they serve, San Remo aims to maintain the personal touch. Our customers really are at the heart of everything we do.