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Est Est Est owners vow to return with Gusto

ONE of George Street's top restaurants closed its doors today to undergo a massive �2 million refurbishment.

Est Est Est, which has been a popular fixture on the street for more than a decade, will reopen next month under the new name of Gusto.

The redevelopment will see it transformed into a 1950s-style New York Italian restaurant and bar, featuring grand chandeliers and an indoor "olive tree boulevard".

Owners Living Ventures are expecting Gusto to double the turnover of Est Est Est and say already they have seen strong bookings for the Christmas period.

The company is planning to hire up to 50 more staff, as well as the 25 people currently employed.

General manager Nina Nombro expects the new restaurant to further improve the reputation of the George Street area.

She said: "We're envisaging that it will be a lot busier and it will be another big addition that will improve George Street.

"We've been here for more than ten years now but in the last five years in particular the street has really started to grow and grow, with a lot of good, new high-quality units.

"What we are looking to do will very much be in keeping with the George Street style. It will be very stylishly fitted out and it will be a great place to come and eat and drink."

The ceilings will be raised to create more room, while a giant illuminated Italian banquet table seating up to 36 people will dominate Gusto's restaurant area.

As well as the olive trees, there will be sweeping balustrades and an open-plan kitchen, allowing diners to see their food being prepared. The food menu is also to be revamped and will feature "top-end" dishes such as lobster and T-bone steaks alongside existing favourites like pizza and pasta.

Ms Nombro said the new restaurant would feature outdoor dining in the summer that would contribute to George Street's day and night-time economy.

Edinburgh's Est Est Est is among the first of Living Venture's restaurants to undergo redevelopment and will use up a considerable chunk of the firm's �10m pot of money.

It was due to close its doors today and will reopen on November 22 as Gusto, just ahead of the festive party season.

The investment in new staff will cover the range of bar staff, waiting staff, chefs and kitchen assistants.

Sue Crimes, operations director of Living Ventures, which also owns The Living Room and Blackhouse Grill brands, said the recruitment of the new staff will play a key part in the new format.

She said: "The recruitment and retention of highly-motivated and talented people is the most important part of our business.

"Keeping hold of and developing skilled staff is essential to the ongoing success of Living Ventures. It is critical to engage people in our concept and offering in order to give them the confidence they need to provide first-class service."

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