Dominique Colaianni (La Mirabelle): Your Mouth, Watering
An interview with Dominique Colaianni, owner of Espaces Saveurs, a restaurant group with seven outlets in Luxembourg.
Can you tell us about the history of your group?
Les Espaces Saveurs started with a meeting between Olivier Felmann and me. I arrived in Luxembourg in 1986 to work at Caves Gourmandes, which was then run by my ex-father-in-law, Daniel Lucien Meilhac. He was a Burgundy wine merchant. Olivier started at Clairefontaire and then joined me. We went from a tasting room to a small restaurant, then to a real restaurant, with Olivier in the kitchen and me in the dining room. We worked like great dreamers, certain that we had found the ideal country. In 1990, I separated from my wife, which prompted us to strike out on our own. At the end of 1991, we took over La Mirabelle after the bankruptcy of L'île aux trésors.
“We're spoilt in Luxembourg! There's great competition and gourmets are never disappointed.”
This was to be the first of many restaurants
I'm of Italian origin, but I was born in Nancy. "Mirabelle" was the perfect name because it also means "beautiful to look at." We offered a fine bourgeois cuisine with a focus on the mirabelle plum: Rabbit terrine with mirabelle plums, duck breast with mirabelle plums, mirabelle plum flambée. The business took off immediately! In 1993, my ex-father-in-law wanted to leave the Grand Duchy: We took over the Caves Gourmandes, then opened the Goethe Stuff - an Alsatian restaurant - in 1995, and so on. In total, we have managed more than 20 restaurants, including the Michelin-starred “Petit Valentin” in Moutfort, the Piu di prima, the Temple Bar, and even the restaurant in Esch where the Mosconis worked before moving to the Gründ. We now run seven restaurants: Mirabelle, La Forge de Massard, Goethe Stuff, Come Prima, Sapori, L'ultimo in Mamer, and Le Sept in Howald.
If you summarize all these experiences, what's left?
Luxembourg is a wonderful host country that made our dreams come true. Taking over a bankrupt restaurant isn't easy, but we believed in it with all our might. You have to be there, shake hands, buy the right products, and find the right wines to go with them! When I opened “Sapori” next to Mirabelle, people told me I was going to be competing with myself. In fact, the opposite happened! La Mirabelle is still our embassy and the center where managers from our other businesses come to learn about the Group's values. For today's young people, I think they must find niches and go for it.