Mamma Mia in Summertown is one of Oxford’s culinary institutions, recently celebrating its 40th anniversary. read about it here So news that it has just moved premises has sent its loyal regulars into a frisson of excitement? Why was it moving, would it be as good, and what to expect?
Having opened the new Mamma Mia Summertown this week, right next door to the original Italian restaurant on South Parade, owner Jon Ellse was delighted to answer all these questions and more.
“Opening a new restaurant is always exciting……and a tad nerve-racking”
So why the move? “We knew some time ago that we would need larger premises and felt it important to stay close to the original. We managed to secure No. 9 a few years ago. Ideally, we would have been open a year ago, but the pandemic put a halt to that.”
“But basically, our original Mamma Mia had a very small footprint and, in many ways, lacked many of the amenities expected from both guests and staff,” he says.
“Our new restaurant gives us everything we need, such as disability access, baby change, prep rooms, cold rooms, a staff room, storage areas and a much larger service kitchen.
So did Jon endeavour to make them as similar as possible for the legions of regular customers? “Yes, we set out to make the new restaurant reassuringly familiar,” he says.
“Generations of families have been visiting Mamma Mia for over four decades and keeping things simple and fresh was incredibly important”
“Fundamentally, little has changed. We have the same flooring, exposed brickwork, tablecloths and colour scheme, though there’s no doubt that it has an updated feel to it.
“Generations of families have been visiting Mamma Mia for over four decades and I knew that keeping to our own principle of keeping things simple and fresh was incredibly important. Mamma Mia really doesn’t need to be reinvented.
No 9 South Parade has been many things over the years from Liscious Interiors, to a kitchen design studio, The Guitar Gallery and going back a little further, The Paint Pot. But having new life licked into it will only enhance the delicious offering going forward.
“I regularly remind our team that money is hard-earned and if our guests chose to spend their money in Mamma Mia then we have to deliver on all fronts”
Andrew after a 12 month refurb, when the entire building was stripped, extended and fitted out fit for the 21st century, Jon is hugely excited about the new project.
Opening a new restaurant is always exciting……and a tad nerve-racking,” he agrees. “There are no guarantees when opening a new restaurant.
Surely not a problem when Mamma Mia is so enduringly popular? “Well, we never take being busy for granted,” he adds.
So what’s his secret? “I put it down to consistency….consistency of atmosphere, quality of food and the service we provide. Over the years, we’ve ignored many of the food fads and have concentrated on being able to serve a freshly prepared familiar menu. I regularly remind our team that money is hard-earned and if our guests chose to spend their money in Mamma Mia then we have to deliver on all fronts….”
Sitting comfortably alongside Mamma Mia in Jericho and Jon’s much loved pub The Perch read our last review here in Binsey, he must be delighted with how everything is going?
“The Perch has had a really good festive season and I’m both delighted and relieved at how busy it is at the Jericho branch, although later this year we’ll be refurbishing it as, after 13 years, it’s getting a little tired.
As for what is happening to the old restaurant premises Jon would only say: “Watch this space!! I’ll keep you posted. But I’ll relax a little when we’ve been open for a few weeks!”
Mamma Mia Summertown and Jericho are at http:// https://www.mammamiapizzeria.co.uk