A POPULAR Italian restaurant will re-open next month under new ownership.

Federico Calore runs Marco Polo Express takeaway in Darwen and will be expanding the business when he opens Marco Polo restaurant on the site of the former Pack restaurant in Belthorn.

The 36-year-old picked up the keys for the restaurant on March 17 but then lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic started.

Mr Calore is currently working around the clock painting and re-decorating the venue and will work on the exterior in the coming weeks.

It will be a family affair at Marco Polo when the restaurant opens either on July 15 or 20, depending on works at the site.

Mr Calore said: “We are really excited about it and we have had some good reaction on Facebook since posting about opening the restaurant. There were a lot of people saying they are so happy that we are opening and how they want to get down here.

“We have also spoken to people about the pros and cons of The Pack restaurant and what they are saying we are trying fix those issues. At least they know we are trying to do what they want.

“We started trying to get the restaurant in October or November last year. My sister has moved from Italy last week and my brother-in-laws have been here since November helping with it.

“We are from Venice in Italy. My dad, sister and two brother-in-laws will be involved it the business.

“The people are going to be getting authentic Italian food and it is being cooked from scratch with handmade pasta and pizza.”

Mr Calore added that customers will notice a few changes but they have big plans for the future.

He said: “We have re-decorated inside and in the next few weeks we are getting people to paint outside.

“We are keeping the same chairs and tables but with the coronavirus restrictions we are going to have to take about 10 seats out for space.

“But we do not know how the coronavirus will affect us as whether people will want to come out and eat out or whether they will be scared. We want to create an extension to the bar and the beer garden which will be good. We have a lot of new LED lights in the bar and it has a fresh and modern look.”

It is an exciting time for the family as Mr Calore also has plans to turn the Marco Polo takeaway into a cafe.