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Wales Online
Wales Online
Robert Dalling

Hugely popular Mumbles cafe Verdi’s is being taken over by the people behind The Secret

The new owners of the hugely popular Mumbles cafe and restaurant - Verdi's - have insisted the iconic venue will stay exactly the same after officially announcing they have taken it over. Ryan and Lucy Hole, who are behind the likes of The Secret Bar and Kitchen, The Green Room and The Lighthouse, formerly known as Castellamare, completed the purchase of Verdi's on Wednesday, March 8.

The family-run business, operated by the Moruzzi family for generations, has won legions of loyal customers for its ice cream, coffees, and authentic Italian food, with stunning views of Swansea Bay. But the family decided it was time for a change, and approached the Hole family to ask if they would be interested in acquiring the business.

The brother and sister team of Ryan and Lucy, who have also brought their fellow siblings, Tom Hole and Amy Harvey, into their own family business, decided it was far too good an opportunity to turn down, and have added the iconic Swansea name to their portfolio. That portfolio began when they opened The Optimist in Uplands in 2017 and The Secret on Swansea beachfront in July, 2019. They now plan to enhance the number of staff at Verdi's from 80 to 115, with front of house, kitchen and barista roles available. Get Swansea stories straight to your inbox with our newsletter.

READ MORE: The historic Mumbles pub linked to Dylan Thomas and Anthony Hopkins that's rotting away and an eyesore

Tom Hole, Rob Deere, Amy Harvey, Lucy Hole, Ryan Hole, Giuseppe Cianciarolo, Calvin Palla, Ivanna Mills and Jonathan Hollis (Robert Dalling / WalesOnline)

Discussing how the opportunity came about, Mr Hole said: "The Moruzzi family approached us and asked if we would be interested. They could have sold for a lot more money to a national chain, but they wanted to look for a local family to carry on the Verdi's legacy. Their staff are their friends so they wanted to make sure someone would come in and carry on that relationship and retain the same values.

"We grew up with Verdi's as customers and we've got such wonderful memories with family and friends. Our message is very much that it completely works as it is. It's such an iconic and brilliant venue and we have absolutely no plans to change anything at all. There will be no rebrand, no refurbishment, it's business as usual. We closed down for a day to sort the tills and admin stuff to put our systems in, but we re-opened today with the exact same menu, exact same supply, exact same food. The ice cream will stay the same! It's all made on site."

Mrs Hole added: "It's exciting, it's a mad feeling really, Verdi's has been part of our childhood and it's such an iconic venue. To actually have it now in the collection is amazing. Nothing needs to change, it's not broken, so it just needs to carry on as normal. At Castellamare, we just recognised that there needed to be a refurbishment, and we bought that business knowing we would inject that money to give it a refurb and carry on our way. At Verdi's it does not need that, it's a solid structure and it absolutely does perform."

When the pair acquired Castellamare, at Bracelet Bay, they made the decision to change its name to The Lighthouse, with a multi-functional venue, separated into three different areas. You can read more about that by clicking here. They explained why they felt change was needed at that venue, whilst none was needed at Verdi's. They also explained how they planned to spread their time across all their venues.

Mr Hole said: "Castellamare was the village they grew up in in Italy, which had no relevance to us. Our mission statement is unique venues in spectacular locations. To be honest we didn't have any plans to buy Verdi's, but it's not every day those opportunities come along and we just thought it's a once in a lifetime opportunity that was too good to turn down.

"If we were to expand any further they would have to be unique venues in spectacular locations across south west Wales. We've built a brilliant team around us and we've got a head office in the city centre who manage marketing and HR and accounts and stuff. We've been putting the foundations in for a while knowing we'd have a growth, and each of our other venues have got brilliant staff and brilliant managers who we can rely on and who we put a lot of trust in. We brought our brother and sister on - Tom Hole and Amy Harvey - which completes it as a real family business. We've got four of us in the business all working together and we've all got separate roles."

Verdi's is one of the most popular cafes in Swansea (Robert Dalling / WalesOnline)
People flock to the cafe all year round (Robert Dalling / WalesOnline)

The pair paid tribute to the staff at the restaurant, who will all continue in their roles as usual, along with the Moruzzi family themselves. They said: "We've got brilliant staff here who have worked here for years and years and years who we've met over the last couple of months.

"What has been really nice is we were introduced to the staff months ago, which allowed us to build a relationship with them. The passion they have for Verdi's is amazing. We've already built a great relationship with them before us coming in today. We're really looking forward to working with them together.

"The Moruzzi family have been a dream to deal with and their integrity and honesty from day one has been amazing. From the first meeting we had we shook hands and that was it. I know they have had offers that would have been more financially rewarding for them since then but they have stuck by their word and that sums the family up. It shows the type of people they are."

Departing director Marco Moruzzi spoke of the family's decision to sell the cafe, and of his fond memories of their time running the business. He said: "It is three months short of 30 years that we have been here. We're all getting on a bit, it's hard work, as Lucy and Ryan will find out! It felt time to hand over to a younger generation who have got a bit more energy.

"We didn't want it to become another chain, so Lucy and Ryan have got other local venues which are run very well, and after speaking to them, it became obvious that they want to carry on running the place in the same way which is important to us, because we are proud of what we've built up here. It's good that the legacy will carry on.

"It's surreal at the moment, it hasn't sunk in yet. I'm carrying on to help the transition. I have been so busy I haven't thought that far ahead of what I'm going to do afterwards! We've had some great memories, including an episode of Question Time hosted here, with William Hague, we've had Blue Peter filming here, The Holiday show, it's been used as a venue for so many productions I've lost count through the years.

"We'd like to thank all of our loyal customers, we've got lots of loyal customers who are regulars every day. One of the sad things about it is that it is a social hub, and we won't see many of them anymore, which is quite sad. We still plan to pop in. It's a lovely bunch we are handing over to. We feel it's in safe hands and we wish them all the very best."

Inside Verdi's (Robert Dalling / WalesOnline)
Verdi's' famous ice cream (Robert Dalling / WalesOnline)

Manager of Verdi's, Jonathan Hollis, said: "I want to say a huge thank you from myself, all the staff past and present and all of our amazing customers to the Moruzzi family. Verdi's is such a big part of so many people's lives. I don’t think they realised how popular the place would become when they started up.

"Everywhere you go people seem to know Verdi's. It’s been an emotional last week and I’m going to miss working for them but we will be friends for life. I’m now excited to start working for the Hole family who have impressed me since the first time we met. They understand what an iconic place Verdi's is and will do everything they can to keep it that way."

The acquisition of Verdi's was supported by Barclays Bank. Its business relationship director, Eurig Morgan, said: “As champions of local business, it is essential that we support local growing businesses such as the Secret Hospitality Group. Ryan and his siblings, Lucy, Amy and Tom, are a great example of family serial entrepreneurs using their experience, passion and skills to develop and grow a successful business. By really understanding the sector, Barclays has been able to create a bespoke funding package to support the business throughout its latest acquisition and expansion.”

If you would like to apply for one of the new roles being created at Verdi's, e-mail to express your interest.


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