Looking very forlorn parked under an olive tree in sun soaked Abruzzo in Italy, Michael Elders had developed quite a fondness for the rotting vintage three-wheeled vespa van in his grandparent’s neighbour garden.
Little did he know it would inspire a whole new business adventure, which would see the vintage vehicle transported and transformed into a unique model, now bringing a little slice of Italy to events across the North West.
Bored with the monotony of 9-5 office work, and with dreams of being his own boss, 25-year-old Michael gave up his job in property management, a house and life as he knew it to give the Vespa a new lease of life as a bar on wheels
Teaming up with his dad David, the pair have given the 1978 Piaggio Ape, originally a transportation vehicle for light goods, a sleek new makeover, with all the sweet connotations of Italy.
Micheliono’s’ began trading this year.
And in another twist as well as serving a fine selection of wines and prosecco from the mobile bar, Michael on his travels discovered a new sparkling strawberry wine Fragolino, from northern Italy, which he is now importing to sell wholesale online and from the van
Michael, who is from Inskip and now based in Bolton-le-Sands, says: “I had done the typical college to university to full-time employment route, bought my own house, car but I knew it wasn’t really for me.
“I’d always wanted to work for myself, I decided to take some time out and with having Italian grandparents, had spent a lot of time over there.
“Year after year we’d return to see the same old three wheel van parked under an olive tree, rotting away.
“As a lover of classic cars, it broke my heart to see a vehicle with so much potential go to waste.
“So I hatched a plan with my dad to bring it back from Italy to the UK on a trailer, and start work on restoring it and giving it a new lease of life as mobile wine bar.”
It has taken former Garstang High School pupil, Michael six months to complete the project - he named the business Michelino’s’ meaning little Michael’
“It came from my grandfather’s name Michele who I am named after.”
Ready to start trading Michael has lined up a number of food and drink festivals this summer and is now taking private bookings for everything from weddings and hen parties to garden parties and corporate events.
“It’s been extremely hard work but I’m so glad I saw it through and really very proud of the finished van.
“I’d studied construction management at UClan and had managed to work through decent jobs in property management but I felt nothing was coming of it and I realised to change it I would have make my own future.
“I put my house up on the market, moved back in with my mum and dad and set about hatching a new plan and here I am.”
The discovery of the strawberry wine was a little gem- knowing it was something he wouldn’t find in the UK, Michael took a mini Italian adventure to Vaneto to track down the producers to ask if he could import it back home.
“It is an absolutely delicious wine - and I knew it would be perfect for the bar and something to make Michelino’s stand out from the other micro bars
“I just decided to take a road trip and knock on the door of the producers - I managed to find them and launched into this presentation of what I wanted to do in the best Italian I could, I was trying so hard and it was only when I had finished the lady told me she could speak English.
“She seemed impressed though and agreed on the spot so it worked out in the end.”
For more information, visit michelinos.co.uk