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Bella Italia (formerly known as Bella Pasta) is a chain of over 90 Italian restaurants operating in the United Kingdom. The chain is part of the Casual Dining Group, who also own Café Rouge and Las Iguanas.
In 1990, Michael Guthrie (former Chairman of Mecca Leisure Group) formed BrightReasons and bought the Pizzaland and Pastificio chains from Grand Metropolitan for £20m in February 1991, rebranding Pastificio to Bella Pasta in the process.
In May 1994, BrightReasons started preparing for a stock market flotation, and the group was expected to be valued at between £70m-£100m. This was subsequently announced in September, however, in November 1994, the planned flotation was postponed.
In December 2002, the Bella Pasta chain was rebranded as Bella Italia and the first fully branded restaurant opened in Leeds.
In September 2013, Bella Italia began a partnership with the Gourmet Society, offering their members discounts on production of a Gourmet Society restaurant discount card.
In June 2012, Bella Italia began officially supporting The Children's Society by donating some of the profit from a selected dish on the menu to the charity.
In 2013, Bella Italia officially partnered with Comic Relief, the British charity founded in 1985 that aims to "bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people."
The menu combines pizza and pasta, which is their main product, with a range of grill and speciality dishes. The food is complemented by some Italian wines - many from smaller producers - beers and soft drinks.
Tipping and minimum wage
In 2009 the company was found to be threatening to dismiss waiting staff who do not get customers to pay tips on credit cards rather than in cash. Credit card tips were used by the company to subsidise wages (which are usually the legal minimum) whereas cash tips go directly to waiting staff. In line with changes to tipping legislation, which came into effect on 1 October 2009, Tragus Ltd reviewed and updated its policies to ensure that all tips, after a 10% deduction for administrative and other costs paid by credit or debit card, are now distributed through the payroll system to restaurant staff. All restaurant employees are paid tips in addition to the National Minimum Wage.
In November 2015 the chain received the worst rating of all restaurants surveyed in an assessment of the sustainability of its seafood.
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- Elliott, Jamie (28 June 2009). "Cafe waiters fear the axe over cash tips". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
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