THIRTEEN years ago, a Darwen takeaway opened its doors offering quality Italian food whilst embarking on a journey that was to play a huge part in the community.

Owners of The Godfather, a well-established takeaway in Duckworth Street, since made the decision to open a family-friendly Italian restaurant in the heart of the town.

And this year the Fani family, launched the Amalfi Lounge, where the majority of the dishes are based on recipes from the late Eduardo Salza, a Naples born cook, who passed all that he knew on to his daughter and restaurant manageress Olga.

Along with Olga’s husband Kayvan, and four children Sasha, Shaheen, Katrina and Kayvan Junior the family continue to run the takeaway next door as well as a thriving cocktail bar – a decision made by Kayvan Junior who also runs the Amalfi Lounge.

“The business is doing so well and we are very busy; it’s just fantastic. I can’t believe how far we have come, it has been great because I joined the business when I was just 14, and I have seen it grow from strength to strength,” said Kayvan Junior.

“I was going to go to university, but once my dad bought his partner out of the takeaway business, I knew that I could take on the family firm and work alongside him. The restaurant is just Italian food, nothing else, just good traditional Italian dishes.

“We have a twist of traditional and modern too, the recipes come from my granddad and the tiramisu my mother makes is from her previous generations.”

In May the restaurant re-branded to Amalfi Lounge and Kayvan was keen to give the town a cosmopolitan twist bringing its first cocktail bar.

“The idea was generated from our own customer base, especially women aged 25-45 who expressed a great desire for a better standard of drinking establishments to visit in Darwen. There was nowhere that did them before us. The idea didn’t go down well and people said that it would never work. Although drinkers here usually have to travel as far as Manchester or Clitheroe for a decent cocktail but now we are open we are heaving.

“We honestly didn’t expect to be so busy. Women – I would say 70 per cent of our weekend customers – come in for a well-earned drink and a delicious cocktail, It’s great to be so busy.”

Dad, Kayvan, 54, spends his time managing the takeaway, the project that he started in 1990, whilst Olga, 51, makes tiramisu for the restaurant as well as being front of house.

Kayvan Junior, 25, said that at times the family get the chance to stand back and take in their achievements.

He said: “My grandfather taught me everything that I know. It gets pretty emotional when you think about it, we started out as one quarter in the business all those years ago and my dad has worked really hard to get where he is.

“He gave us the opportunity to open the restaurant and everything we have done really is paying off and to be using my grandfather’s traditional recipes such as Filetto di manzo e rucola and pizza crudo. It is great.”

The restaurant employs another 12 staff members, including three chefs as well as a professional cocktail maker, Damien Addison-Coughlin.

The Amalfi Lounge also works with a local Italian food wholesaler based in the town, Deli Carlo. “We have teamed up with Carlo and get all of our ingredients locally. It is really important to work with local suppliers as it’s all about buying locally, although we keep our menu authentic,” said Kayvan.

The restaurant is open every day except for Christmas, and the family are looking forward to a ‘well-earned’ break on Christmas day.

“In the future I would really love to expand the business, that’s the next thing that we want to do. It has been a crazy seven months but we are really looking forward to sitting down together on Christmas day and actually seeing each other.”