Italian brothers honoured for decades at restaurant

Two brothers who ran one of the most successful Italian restaurants in Leeds for almost 50 years have been recognised in the King's Birthday Honours List.

Geppino "Gip" Dammone, 68, and his brother Gianfranco "John", 64, have served generations of customers at Salvo's in Headingley.

The pair, who have been at the restaurant from its opening in 1976 until retiring last year, have been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for their services to hospitality.

Gip Dammone said it was an "absolute honour" to be recognised in the field in he had devoted most of his life to.

The brothers moved to Yorkshire with their parents following a cholera outbreak in their native country and went on to set up the restaurant, initially running it with their father Salvatore.

Recalling the earliest memories of Salvo's, Gip Dammone said: "Weirdly, there were more pizzerias in the north of England than there were in London.

"We were the first wave of affordable restaurants where you could go in, have some pizza or some pasta, have a litre of wine and it'd be £1.30 or something like that.

"The pizzas were 70p when we opened and they were exotic things, so we were successful straightaway."

The brothers helped introduce novel dining concepts to customers, including shared tables between different guest groups, handing out free pizza slices to those queuing and taking no bookings.

Salvo's has since won numerous food awards and remained in the Good Food Guide every year since 1985.

It also held a prestigious AA rosette, an award recognising culinary excellence, since 2010.

"We've got three generations of people - they came before, now they come in with their children and their children come in with their children," Gip Dammone said.

"In the restaurant there's been three generations of my family working too."

'Bangkok to Whitby'

Outside of the restaurant, the brothers have worked closely with the local community, such as by buying meat from local farmers, which was reciprocated when people supported the restaurant during the Covid pandemic.

Their work also includes events with local charities and schools, and mentoring and cooking lessons with children.

Gip Dammone said he was most proud of seeing those he had taught go on to establish their own well-respected restaurants and culinary careers "from Bangkok to Whitby".

Other people recognised in the King's Birthday Honour's List include 80-year-old Thomas Long who has been awarded a BEM for services to the community in Wakefield.

Mr Long founded the Senior Citizens Support Group in 2010 and has developed activities for older people in Horbury and the surrounding district to tackle social isolation and loneliness.

Supriya Nagarajan, 58, also receives a BEM for services to music for her role as founder, chief executive officer and artistic director at Manasamitra in Dewsbury.

Through Manasamitra, she supports dozens of artists locally and nationally as well as mentoring community artists and school children.

Her work also helps create opportunities for individuals to overcome socio-economic barriers to achieve their goals.

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