January 26, 2024 – After becoming the head chef of the only Zagreb Michelin star restaurant not three months ago, inspiring the most varied reactions from the local gastronomic scene, Mario Mandarić has already jumped into a new role. Together with Ivan Jugo, the previous co-owner and sommelier, he took over the ownership of Noel, and now both of them have officially confirmed it for Dobra Hrana.
“We have come a long way with Noel, we are proud of all the success we have achieved so far and we believe that we can go even further with Mario. We believe that he is the person with whom Noel will grow and develop in the right direction. We want security and we want him to feel the same here and with us, that together we are moving towards even greater goals that we have set. The two of us are now the owners of Noel,” Ivan Jug said.
“That’s right, I’m entering the ownership structure as a partner. Ivan and I work really well as friends, and now also as business partners. We started working together a few years ago in San Canziano, and then reunited here. It was meant to be “, continued Mandarić.
Both believe that this is a great time to turn a new page, especially since they plan to expand the project. Soon, they are opening two more bakeries, the first of which should open in about 10 days in Zagreb’s Masarykova Street. The plan is to also open two burger bars, on Iblerov Square and in Skalinska Street, and then a wine bar on the European Square.
“Noel has been going in the right direction all this time, we have achieved great results, we are very proud of it all, of the chefs who have worked here so far, but the time has come to upgrade the story. Noel will from now on be our umbrella institution, it will remain a fine dining restaurant, that is what will always be the focus here, but in addition, we plan to open several new outlets by June this year. Our new bakery in Masarykova is almost ready to open.
We will open a wine bar on the European square, and in the same space there will be a cocktail bar and snacks such as sourdough pizza. I will make the wine list, our bartender Karlo Ferenčak, who has been at Noel since the beginning, will be in charge of cocktails, and the food will be designed by the head baker Domagoj and Mario. As for the burger bar, the first one should open at the beginning of April. “We’ve started this year really strong, we’re working very hard and we don’t plan to stop soon”, Ivan Jug revealed his plans.
In addition to new projects, which, we are sure, many fans of slightly more relaxed formats will be especially happy about, Mario Mandarić and Ivan Jug are constantly working on new ideas and setting new goals in Noel itself. As Mandarić revealed, for some time now they have been intensively searching for as many quality producers as possible to offer dishes prepared from only the best, local and homegrown ingredients, and soon they will also start hosting guests.
“Michael Gollenz from the Alfred Keller restaurant is coming first, who is a good friend of mine and whom I really appreciate as a chef, followed by some top foreign chefs. We are focusing on zero waste, local and domestic, and soon 98 percent of the food we use will come from small OPGs from around Zagreb.
I have already spoken about the project as part of which we will plant fruit trees in schools, and our plan is, when those fruit trees bear fruit, to make jams and compote and to invest everything collected from the sale in the children. I have a great desire to work with children, to show them how food is created, to build some kind of respect for the entire process of creating food, and I think that educating children in general is extremely important. Right now I’m really happy with how everything is coming together.
In general, I think that Noel is the perfect platform to jump out, to leap. It has been one of the best restaurants in Croatia for years, but I think it has been standing in the spot for a long time and I would like to push this whole story a little further. I think that as a team we have great potential to put everything together on a higher level. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s very exciting and I’m very happy about all this”, Mario Mandarić told us, and Ivan Jug then concluded: “I think Mario is exactly what Noel needs now and I think everything is moving in the right direction. We have a great team, some people have been with us from the very beginning, others for years, Mario brought fantastic young people into the kitchen and all this can only be one more beautiful and and even better story.”