ARRESTING IDEA: Italian restaurant opens at former Lancashire police station

DREAM: Director Franco Iozzi

DREAM: Director Franco Iozzi

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You might expect a bread and water diet from behind the bars of a prison cell, but in Leyland you can get high-end authentic Italian delicacies.

La Corte Ristorante, Pizzeria and Wine Bar has opened in the Old Police Station building next to Leyland Railway Station and diners are clamouring to experience food in the quirky settings.

Everyone is talking about it and Franco is so happy, he’s grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Angela Brown

Booths have been installed in the original cells and upstairs the main restaurant is located in the old courtroom, which has been decked out with chandeliers. The Judge’s Chambers can also be booked as a private meeting room or for private dining. The restaurant, which has been fully booked since opening on June 16, is the realisation of a lifelong dream for director Franco Iozzi and partner Angela Brown.

Angela said: “We’ve always dreamed of owning our own restaurant and now our dream has come true. A restaurant of this quality is something that has been missing from Leyland for a long time and people are going mad for it.

“Everyone is talking about it and Franco is so happy, he’s grinning like a Cheshire cat.”

Franco grew up in Calabria, southern Italy and trained at an Italian catering school, gained experience working in five-star hotels before moving to England when he was 18. He worked for Tiggi’s in Bolton and then for the San Marco Group for more than 10 years, before losing a leg following a car accident.

After rehabilitation he spent 14 years working for family business Fresco Fresco in Croston, then heard about the old police station becoming available.

Angela, a marketing consultant, said: “We came to see the place and knew that we could do something special. It’s been a lot of hard work, but we were very keen to keep the original parts of the building, and it looks great.”

Key staff at the restaurant are all Italian, incluiding the restaurant manager, head waitress, head chef, second chef and pizza chef.

Other part time positions have been recruited locally.