ONE of Brighton’s oldest restaurants is celebrating 40 years and still going strong.

Il Bistro, in the Lanes, was opened 40 years ago by Michael Garman.

He launched the restaurant after spending five years travelling and working around Europe in search of the best cuisine and produce.

Picking up the cooking styles of France, Italy and Spain he settled on a Mediterranean-style steakhouse – one of the first of its kind in The Lanes when it opened in 1976.

But despite his European travels, he found the best beef was in Britain and has been using many of the same suppliers ever since.

Set in an old fisherman’s cottage, it is believed to be one of longest running restaurant in Brighton after English’s, Brown’s and The Regency.

The restaurant was initially half the size but expanded around 20 years ago.

Michael, 68, said: “I had worked in bars and restaurant and picked up a few Continental ideas which I decided to bring to Brighton.

“When I first opened, Market Street had two way traffic, you could drive down from the Town Hall.”

Michael started off in the kitchen but has long since moved to the front of house.

Now he is introducing his son Abe to the businesses, who got involved 18 months ago after working in the nightclub industry as a promoter at the likes of Madam Geisha, Coalition and Hed Kandi.

Abe said: “I always thought I would like to have a place of my own to eat and drink, then I thought, ‘hang on a minute, my dad has this great restaurant’, and so I asked to learn the business from scratch.”

Some of Il Bistro’s customers have been coming from the very beginning.

Michael said: “There’s a lot of people that have come here over the years, I’ve made a lot of friends.

“But there’s still a lot of people that don’t even know we’re here.”

With Abe on board he hopes to attract a younger clientele with using social media.