1) What inspired you to start your business?
A burning ambition that came and went for decades, then one day I felt the time had come to realise this plan and put my ideas into action, I had looked at a few properties to begin my restaurant business when I noticed that a 250 year old building, that I had said would make a good Jonathan’s Restaurant 30 years ago had been refurbished, so I made a few phone calls, got the details and then contacted Startup Direct to discuss the Start Up Loan Scheme.
2) What issues have you overcome since starting up your business?
The main initial start up issue was getting the kitchen fitted, this building is Grade II listed which meant I had to design the kitchen around the existing ancient building plan, this took a great deal of patience and creativity, the next was gaining permission from the conservation officer to furnish the restaurant dining room with period furniture and wall hangings. An ongoing and persistent issue is negative social media posts, eating and drinking out seems to be an area that a certain social group of people constantly get “likes” for if they highlight minor personal irritants, for example a wait longer 15 minutes for food, all the seats were taken when they arrived, snow preventing access to car park etc etc.. And as we are located in a park a lot of customers expect us to be a cafe and not a restaurant, therefore currently we are a crossover from upmarket Edwardian style tearoom to restaurant, and being two identities doesn’t please everyone.
3) What successes have you had recently?
We have had bookings for large parties to eat at our restaurant, the Lord Mayor brought 90 guests and we have taken bookings for 5 weddings for next year. Everything seems to be going in line with our startup business plan.
4) What are your plans for the next 5 years?
To establish the higher end restaurant concept of the business and move into evening opening, to train managers to enable the business to function without myself having to be onsite constantly and to develop the Jonathan’s Restaurant brand into at least one more outlet.
5) What did Startup Direct teach you about starting up a business and the different types of funding for startups?
Startup Direct highlighted the importance of a solid business plan and to monitor it, the cash flow forecast is also very important even though it is literally just a forecast, it gives you targets to aim for and a road map to follow, I didn’t learn much about the different types of funding, just the different amounts of funding available for my startup business loan.
To check out more details head to the website www.jonathansinthepark.com.