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The Italian Job

For a family business spanning four generations, Cipriani continues to expand its legacy

When Giuseppe Cipriani established Harry’s Bar in Venice in a former warehouse on May 13, 1931, it’s safe to say he had no idea what he was starting. That tiny bar and eatery would become a hangout for the rich and famous likes of Ernest Hemingway, Noël Coward and Aristotle Onassis; the birthplace of two Italian culinary classics (the Bellini and carpaccio); a family business that’s employed four generations (and counting) of Ciprianis; and a 12-city global hospitality empire that consists of 18 restaurants, three clubs, residences and a hotel. “Our company is a wonderful mix of tradition, timeless values, new energy and a lot of hard work,” says Giuseppe Cipriani, 47, grandson of the original namesake.

This year, that hard work has included opening a nightspot in club-clogged Ibiza. Giuseppe, who managed the Spain rollout, learned the ropes by watching his father, Arrigo, and his grandfather build their dynasty from the bottom up. Now he’s grooming his two sons (Ignazio, 25, and Maggio, 23) to continue. And there’s no coasting allowed. As an inaugural project, his children were given a real challenge: to spearhead the development of the 137-room Mr. C hotel in Beverly Hills, steps away from Rodeo Drive and soon to have five 3,000-square-foot, multifloor bungalows.

Mr. C, which opened in June 2011, has been a success. While it was a risky move for twentysomethings who come from a family better known for their innovations in bars and restaurants, Maggio and Ignazio had the confidence that their multigenerational know-how would carry them through. “Core values that were good in 1931 are still good today,” Maggio says. “Of course, each generation of the family has added some personal ways of looking at things and keeping the brands in line with the times.”

The duo has also been largely responsible for the unveiling of their company’s first restaurant in Miami this past spring. The town’s see-and-be-seen personality is a great match for Cipriani’s high-gloss hospitality, and Maggio and Ignazio chose a bilevel space in the Icon Brickell luxury complex, where guests have fantastic views of Biscayne Bay from the outdoor patio or through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The maritime-themed eatery has a crisp blue-and-white color palette, porthole windows, Murano chandeliers and shelves of beautiful art books. But as with the family’s other hot spots, the brothers know that looks alone won’t keep diners coming back. So they’ve made sure that the Miami kitchen produces the same satisfying meals that are their brand’s trademark: homemade pastas, flown-from-Italy cheeses and that famed carpaccio alla Cipriani.

Other young men might want to take a break and rest on their laurels a bit after pulling off such a launch, but not the Cipriani siblings. The pair are determined to expand their family’s reach; they’re always looking for the next hit. “There are locations all over the world where we could fit,” Ignazio adds. “One thing at a time, though.” cipriani.com