Convivo expands concept with a new restaurant
By Chris Bavender
Photos by Stan Gurka
It all started with a conversation over coffee.
“My business partner (Emilio Cento) and I were having a coffee across the street from Convivio Carmel and the space next to it was vacant. We were talking about what might go there,” said Andrea Melani, co-owner of Convivio. “From there it grew and we started wondering if it would be a good idea to open a breakfast place and use the same kitchen space as Convivio.”
Within a week of that conversation, Melani and Cento had a floor plan and a name; and five months later they signed the lease on the space for their new venture - Caffe Buondi. The breakfast and lunch spot opened early this year.
“Business has been very good for being a new place with no other ties or promotions besides letting our regulars at Convivio know we were opening,” Melani said. “People seem to be happy and the neighborhood is great. It’s definitely exceeded expectations.”
The opening did mean one change – Convivio now only serves dinner. Lunch business at the Italian eatery averaged about 60 people, according to Melani, but they are seeing three times that number at Caffe Buondi.
“It was a good call,” Melani said.
Caffe Buondi steers away from the traditional menu heavy on eggs and pancakes and focuses instead on items that are creative but still clearly breakfast oriented. You’ll find frittatas; buckwheat galettes (a savory crepe) folded with a sunny side egg and ham and Swiss cheese; potato waffles with a sunny side egg, sausage patty and cheese sauce; and a selection of toast such as fig with ricotta, smoked avocado and capers, scrambled egg and asparagus, or sweet roasted marshmallows and Nutella.
“When we make changes it’s typically because something wasn’t working, not because we are tired of something,” Melani said. “We added a new crepe dish that is savory and removed the toast board – things like that. And, we try to keep it seasonal.”
No matter the season, it always seems sunny at Caffe Buondi thanks in part to its bright, wide open interior.
“We wanted it to be a place that was bright and kind of energizing because it is the beginning of day so the idea of a garden wall and the restaurant is white and modern and bright,” Melani said. “I think people like the design a lot and have kind of a ‘Wow’ reaction when they walk in. There is a lot of space to give that feeling of openness.”
A Seat at the Bar
The long espresso bar is another “Wow” for customers, he said.
“A lot of people seem to enjoy that and most of our regulars come in and want to sit at the bar,” he said. “They are coming both places – it’s actually kind of funny. Some people we might see at breakfast, and then other days at dinner multiple times a week.”
Melani and Cento split their time between the restaurants.
“We do have a manager and chef per store but not enough because they each need two days off a week so my partner and I are filling in constantly except for one day a week when we are off,” Melani said. “We are just all over the place.”
As to what the future holds, a third Convivio could be on the menu, along with some other ventures.
“We are actively looking at doing something in Fishers but nothing makes us crazy as far as location but there are a couple of things coming up in the near future,” Melani said. “Mass Ave. is also something we are really interested in but I don’t think it would be a Convivio or Caffe Buondi - but possibly something completely new.”