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An Ayrshire Institution

By, Steven Smith

An institution in Ayrshire hailing all the way from Italy, the Cecchinis and their train of restaurants have come from humble beginnings to now be known as one of the most popular restaurateurs in all of Ayrshire.

The Cecchini family hails from the relaxed old town of Barga in Tuscany. Affectionately known as the “The most Scottish town in Italy”, Barga has its roots firmly planted into some of Scotland’s most recognisable names. These names include the massively popular Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini, whose father hails from Barga. Jonny Moscardini, a Scottish born football player who went on to play for the Italian National Team before returning to our shores, also resided there. 

Aldo Cecchini came to Scotland in the Winter of 1963 to work as a waiter in The Sun Court Hotel, speaking no English. It was here that he would meet and fall for his now wife, Morag. In 1985, Aldo & Morag opened a 30-seater café in Troon, the first Cecchini’s establishment ‘The Strawberry Cushion’. Anthony was drafted in as a 13-year-old dishwasher, and “The Crockery Technician” has worked in the family business ever since. Cecchini’s Troon was opened in 1990 – this was such a success that in 1996 it had to be doubled in size. Cecchini’s Ayr has recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary having been opened on the 20th November 1997. Staff member Francis Mcgrady has worked at the Ayr restaurant since its opening, having moved from the previous “Reganos Restaurant”, this was ran many years ago by another Italian family, “The Marcantonios” it was called “The Wellington Tearoom” and opened in the 1930’s! 

Almost ten years later, looking to expand again the family came across the old Ardrossan Pump House. The picturesque red brick building sat vacant in a prime location on Ardrossan’s beautiful shoreline. It was here that the family chose to open their next location. The Cecchini dynasty grew once again in 2014 with the opening of Cecchini’s Prestwick. Today, three generations of the Cecchini family; Anthony, Jacqui and Ashleigh Cecchini, are proud operators of three beautiful and successful Italian restaurants in Ayr, Prestwick and Ardrossan. Working together with a passionate and enthusiastic team, the strong family bond between Aldo, Morag, Anthony & Jaqui – has ensured that their family heritage and Italian roots are here to stay for years to come. Of course, as much as they have roots in Italy their home in Ayrshire means just as much. The company is a strong supporter of local events such as the highly popular Prestfest, hosting events that promote local bands and performers. On top of this the company also takes part in many local charity events such as Red Nose days, West FM’s Cash 4 Kids and charity runs. 

Patiently perfected since 1985, the Cecchini recipes brought from the family’s original home town, bring out the true flavour of Tuscan cooking. Their menus offer a vast selection of Italian dishes, ensuring that anyone can find a dish they will enjoy. Using recipes which have been passed on from Nonna Cecchini, their menus and dishes have been perfected to ensure authentic, homely Italian food is served every time. These dishes have evolved from generation to generation and are the staple of their “Kitchen Bible”, a basis on which all chefs are trained and adhere to when creating every dish that is served. Many recipes contain Aldo’s “Secret Spice” an ingredient that only one member of the family knows, Agostino, who still resides in Barga. With their ingredients coming from local suppliers all over Ayrshire they have created a unique blend of traditional Italian cuisine lovingly crafted with Scottish ingredients. Truly this is the perfect representation of how these two vastly different cultures have come together to make something incredibly special in Cecchini’s restaurants.