The hospitality industry is in Adrian Bertorelli’s blood. The clue is in the name: Adrian’s grandfather was one of four Italian brothers who moved to London from Emilia-Romagna, as the 20th century dawned. They opened their first restaurant – Bertorelli’s – in the city’s Charlotte Street in 1913, followed by others in Queensway, Shepherd’s Bush, Edgware Road and, later, Covent Garden. Adrian’s father founded Bertorelli’s ice cream (sold to Lyons Maid in the 1970s).
His mother’s family were hoteliers from Yorkshire and the young Adrian and his sister grew up helping out in their hotel in Whitby each summer. This sowed a seed in the Bertorelli siblings.
Adrian did his apprenticeship with Joe Lyons & Co – a huge British hospitality and food manufacturing enterprise for much of the 20th century – before going to work at Bertorelli’s in Queensway in 1975. There he met Susy, working as a waitress. Born in Galicia, she’d moved from Spain to London in 1968.
Adrian left Bertorelli’s in 1980 to work for Neville Abraham and Lawrence Isaacson at Le Café des Amis du Vin (coincidentally where The Boss and I had our first date) in Covent Garden. The trio went on to buy Bertorelli’s and create the highly successful Chez Gerard group of restaurants, which went public in 1995 with 20 establishments.
Along with Susy, Adrian – who left Chez Gerard in 1998 – opened a restaurant in Buckinghamshire. “Our aim was to get a Michelin Bib Gourmand, and we did this in our first year,” he says. “Three years later we accepted an offer we could not refuse.”
The couple then decided to look for a small B&B in the sunshine. Adrian’s sister already had a six-bedroom B&B in Union Street, San Francisco, “so we knew you can make a living with fewer than 10 rooms.”
The move to Mallorca
They first saw Can Furiós – their charming hotel in Binibona in Mallorca – in 2000. It took three years to agree a price to buy the place, which was being rebuilt as a hotel. In the meantime they’d looked at properties “everywhere from Perpignan to Gerona and beyond.” But the couple loved Mallorca and kept Can Furiós in their sights: “It was extremely well built and offered the best owner’s accommodation we’d seen anywhere. We not only wanted a business, but somewhere nice to live,” Adrian says.
They achieved both when they bought Can Furiós. Guests have a choice of seven beautifully appointed and air-conditioned rooms at this country house hotel, a sympathetic restoration of a 16th century villa with twin Moorish towers. The name of the place – which at first glance could be thought to mean ‘house of the angry’ – actually means ‘mad dog’, but there’s no dog living at Can Furiós – mad or otherwise.
Adrian and Susy’s daughter Sophie helped at the hotel for five years but has now returned to London. Now the couple is assisted by a small team of three. “If you look after your staff, they will look after your customers – it’s not rocket science,” says Adrian.
Susy produces the food in the restaurant La Tafoneta – open to both hotel guests and non-residents. “She was always a good cook but she’s become a great chef,” says Adrian. “Customers love the food. When you don’t offer a choice, it is so important that the food is good.”
Adrian’s sister’s hotel in San Francisco (Union Street Inn) is number one on TripAdvisor in that city. Can Furiós has been in Mallorca’s top five hotels on the same travel review site for the past five years. “We know how to look after people and the result is that we have one of the most successful small hotels on the island.”
Those childhood summers working in the family hotel in Whitby clearly taught the brother and sister a lot. But then, hospitality is in their blood . . .
©Jan Edwards 2014