AFTER working as a restaurant manager at Viva Italia for eight months, Sofiia Kemp has taken the reigns from previous owner Anthony Stanton.
The 26-year-old has worked in the hospitality industry all of her life, holding previous management roles at five-star restaurants and hotels.
"When my partner Alan and I moved to Ipswich, I stumbled across Viva Italia and asked Anthony if there was any work available," she said.
"I love this place. We had our first official day under new ownership on November 2 so it's really exciting."
Ms Kemp said there were already a few new items hitting the menu as well as some refreshing cocktails.
"We love the idea of having authentic Italian food so we make all our own dough, ravioli, gnocchi and we bake our bruschetta bread. It's all fresh made at the restaurant," she said.
"We've added a homemade lasagne to the menu too which is really popular.
"We've also added more salads, an antipasto plate and cocktails like cosmos and mojitos."
The young entrepreneur is planning on expanding the restaurant's outdoor deck area and has introduced a Friday afternoon Happy Hour from 5-6pm.
"We'd love to have Sundays on the deck and bring in the younger clientele as well. It's a beautiful space," Ms Kemp said.
"I love being part of people's experiences. I like to help people have a memorable time when they come to celebrate special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays."
Ms Kemp said she hoped to continue to please the restaurant's loyal regulars as well as make some new additions to bring in some new customers.
"It's not the same as it was 15 years ago. I see Viva Italia as the first place people think of when they go for a gathering. I'd love to see it packed, with good music and great food," she said.
"The most important thing is personalised service, where people know who's looking after them."
Viva Italia is open for dinner from 5pm-9pm Monday to Saturday and is now also open for lunch from 12pm-3pm on weekdays.
Phone 3282 8788 or head to the Viva Italia Facebook page.