YOU’RE WELCOME: The team at La Marina (back, left to right) Deanna and Joe Panuccio, Jordan Saunders and Vince Panuccio (front) Deanna and Angelo Panuccio.
YOU’RE WELCOME: The team at La Marina (back, left to right) Deanna and Joe Panuccio, Jordan Saunders and Vince Panuccio (front) Deanna and Angelo Panuccio.

‘That’s the Italian way, open up the house and sit down’

AIRLIE Beach’s new rooftop bar Paradiso was open for just nine weeks before coronavirus restrictions forced them to set down their cocktail shakers.

However, the return to reopening has also been a brief affair as owner of the bar Joe Panuccio raced to welcome residents back to the waterfront venue near the foreshore as well as its sister restaurant, La Marina, at Port of Airlie.

This weekend it will be back to near normal with both venues open for business in what Mr Panuccio hoped would be a “fresh start”.

“Even though it’s been challenging to get both up in a week, we’d rather it be this way than be waiting around for another three months,” he said.

“It is exciting and hopefully we never have to open and close and open again, but it does give you a new lease on life and a new feel.”

Mr Panuccio took advantage of both venues’ closed doors and breathed new life into La Marina with a fresh lick of paint and a reinvigorated menu.

However, he reassured loyal customers many of the old favourites would still be available.

Over at Paradiso, the menu has been expanded to include woodfired pizzas as well as several family-friendly options.

The upstairs bar will also feature some new cocktails and more live music and Mr Panuccio hoped those who missed out during their first weeks of trade would make the most of the reopening.

Paradiso reopened last week with a new menu and cocktails. Image: Supplied.
Paradiso reopened last week with a new menu and cocktails. Image: Supplied.

“(Reopening Paradiso) was even more daunting than (reopening La Marina) to be honest because we had only been open for nine weeks,” he said.

“Now we’ve had to rejuvenate everything and start again and change our identity and what we were doing.”

The saving grace for Mr Panuccio was La Marina’s takeaway branch, La Marina Xpress, which he said allowed him to stay connected with residents.

However, fielding calls to the takeaway branch about when the restaurant would reopen was something he would not miss.

Paradiso reopened last week and, with La Marina set to welcome diners from this Saturday, Mr Panuccio looked forward to welcoming residents back to his “home”.

“We look at this place as our home, and we open the doors to our home,” he said.

“The amount of birthdays and celebrations we had here was phenomenal. We used to sing happy birthday five times in a night, that was my speciality actually.

“(I’m looking forward to) inviting people in and doing what we love and getting an atmosphere back.

“That’s the Italian way, open up the house and sit down!”

La Marina is open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. Bookings are recommended.

Paradiso is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday.

La Marina Xpress is open daily from 5pm.


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