The owners of the iconic Harry’s Bar in Venice have been forced to step aside after running it for more than 80 years.
Members of the famous Cipriani family have been sidelined by banks after failing to turn the business around following three years of mounting debts of £5m.
Executives chosen from Blue Skye Investment, the Luxembourg group that partners the Cipriani family, have been sent into Harry’s Bar to overhaul its organisation and radically cut costs to wipe out the debts.
More than half of the bar’s costs are spent on the wages of its 75 members of staff, who went on strike when voluntary redundancy was suggested.
Arrigo Cipriani, the 80-year-old son of the bar’s founder Giuseppe, blamed the decline of ‘quality tourism’ and the failure of staff to take a pay cut on Harry’s Bar’s financial problems, adding that over the past five years custom had declined by as much as a third.
“These days, many day-trippers come to Venice, but not quality tourists,” he said. “We cannot deny that we miss the Americans who were a guaranteed clientele for the whole year, we are feeling that. And that is not compensated by the new wave of rich Russians or Chinese.”
Located on Venice’s St Mark’s bay waterfront, Harry’s Bar was founded in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani and over the years gained dozens of famous patrons, including Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles and Truman Capote.
In 1948, the classic Bellini cocktail was invented at the bar, which is also credited with inventing carpaccio as it is known today. Harry’s Bar has had several bars and restaurants around the world including London, New York and Istanbul.
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