Restaurateur Ben Kenyon on creating a party mood...

‘Partying is in our blood: in our restaurants Gloria and Circolo, you’ll always see someone from the team singing, dancing or just in a great mood,’ says Ben Kenyon of Big Mamma Group. ‘Curated Spotify playlists are best when they’re not too ‘cool’– classics from the Noughties get the party started.’

Here’s what else Ben suggests:

1 raise the bar

We want to reflect the party vibe in the design of our restaurants with open kitchens and bars that bring the theatre of food preparation closer to the guests. This is very much in line with the trend for open-plan kitchens in the home but be sure to get the height of your bar stools right for guests to perch on.

Allow at least 20 to 25cm for legs to fit comfortably under the bar or worktop. Stools with a gas-lift mechanism are ideal for this as the seat can be raised or lowered accordingly.


There are many ways to make dining feel festive. Rather than a formal setting, we prefer a laid-back approach with custom-made tableware that brings extra joy to our dishes. While tableware doesn’t have to match, create consistency with a key colour or theme. Too many mismatched items can look jarring.


Comfort is key when it comes to seating. You don’t want your guests to feel the need to leave the table as soon as the meal is over. In Circolo, we encourage guests to linger for longer at our whitewashed booths with cosy patterned woven blankets and long bench cushions.  Consider an outdoor fabric to upholster your banquette, particularly if you have children.

The qualities that enable these fabrics to withstand the elements make them ideal for busy family homes.

Check out these stylish and sociable dining spaces.


Above the tables in Circolo, the wisteria-covered ceiling (real dried plants) is scattered with thousands of festoon lights, just like a summer Sicilian wedding. While a ceiling like this may not be practical at home, bring greenery into your space with plants such as English ivy or Ceropegia woodii (String of Hearts plant) that can be mounted at ceiling height to trail down the wall.


We also love vibrant colours and textures. In Gloria, the main dining room is bright and airy with old-school striped booths in baby blue, peach and bright yellow. When using a bold pattern on seating, use co-ordinating block colours on cushions to harmonise.


We use a variety of lighting in our trattorias, which allows us to create different moods. Think hand-woven lamps, festoon lights, Murano glass pendants and vintage lamps and candles. Always install a dimmer – multiple sources of dimmed lighting are much cosier than spotlights. Also, use warmer tones of yellow or white lighting to create a cosy atmosphere.


Don’t take design too seriously! We like to add a few little surprises, like a sexy red neon sign (Gloria) or an unexpected green halo over the Virgin Mary (Circolo). Hang fun lights out of reach of children and where they won’t get knocked. Also think about where sockets are as it will need to be plugged in.

For info on Gloria and Circolo, visit

Find more Christmas dining ideas.

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