The network of Bice restaurants spanning the world today began 90 years ago in Milano, Italy by Beatrice Ruggeri – also know as Bice. She was the first child of a family of 10, and so had to help her parents raise her young siblings almost as they were her own. They lived on a farm where all had to work on the land and help with all chores, so she learned a lot of things that would help her create her future. For years she was encouraged to open her "cucina" to the public as she was known for her extraordinary hospitality and personal warmth, and in 1926, when her husband Gino asked her to move to America with him where he had previously been to make good money, she decided that she would rather try a city like Milano so that she could stay close to her family. They agreed to open a "trattoria" – loosely translated as a friendly gathering place with a farm to table approach. With Bice in the kitchen and her brothers and sisters serving in the dining room, il ristorante "Da Gino e Bice", or Bice as it would later be known, had a family feeling. The first customers said it was like being at the home of a friend, as Bice hoped they would.
As Milano emerged as a European fashion and banking center in the 1970's, Bice Milano was embraced by a new international clientele that included the continent's reigning designers. In a city where understated elegance is the norm, word spread of the restaurant's stylish interiors, the Tuscan origins of the food and of Bice Ruggeri's unwavering commitment to satisfying her clients. Bice was now a recognized Milanese restaurateur and her sons, Remo and Roberto, were taking steps to extend her vision throughout the world. In the early 1970's Remo and Roberto took a more active role, as they ventured into learning all that could be learned within the restaurant business. They managed to stay true to their mother's vision of Bice Ristorante being an inviting place where friends and family could come together and feel much as if they were at the home of a friend. Bice Milano remained a flourishing local establishment throughout World War II and is enjoying 9 decades of success located at Via Borgospesso 12, Milano, Italy. In 1978 Remo and Roberto took the first steps to give Bice an international cache, opening a second Bice in Porto Cervo, on the island of Sardinia, where the Aga Khan had just established a playground of sorts for international socialites, celebrities and other affluent world travelers.
It wasn't unusual to find royal families in addition to the Agnelli's and the Kennedy's dining on the same night. This international destination was a good match for the Bice brand of hospitality and for contemplating future locations.
With its international business base and customer mix, New York City was the logical site for the next Bice Ristorante.On July 12, 1987, Roberto Ruggeri decided to open the first Bice Ristorante in the US on 54th Street between 5th and Madison Avenues in Manhattan. It was an astounding overnight success. Bice brought a new type of authentic Italian cuisine and style to NYC and a new destination for people "to see and be seen". The design by Adam Tihany, incorporated elements of the acclaimed original Bice Milano interior to achieve a fresh, yet urban look. The menu was a skillful mix of traditional and newer trends in Italian cuisine. Bice's unique style of hospitality was regarded as the key to the success of that New York location. Bice New York was the most popular Italian restaurant in NYC for many years, and was featured in Martin Dorf's famous "Restaurants That Work" book alongside all-time classics like Spago, Smith & Wollensky and TriBeCa Grill.
Although the original plan was to open one restaurant, the number of openings multiplied: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Palm Beach and Tokyo all in the short span of three years. Up until that point, international restaurant chains were confined to fast food restaurants and a few steakhouses, but Bice confronted and overcame the challenge by creating a unique global image. At the root of Bice's entrepreneurial approach is the desire to offer its guests the possibility to identify themselves with the restaurants, the food we prepare and the same atmosphere around the world. Our regulars make up an elite club that span the globe and know that Bice Group is always there when they want to enjoy themselves.
Restaurants are usually identified by their owners or their chefs, but the Bice Group and their dedicated teams have succeeded in creating an aura around the name of their restaurants that makes up for the absence of those entities.
In 1993, the need to diversify Bice services in order to accommodate the changing tastes of their guests became apparent. With the help of the now grown Bice grandson, Raffaele Ruggeri, the company introduced new theme-related restaurants to appeal to all kinds of costumers alongside the tried and true Bice formula.