We opened Pecoro to the public in August 2016, after about 6 months of planning. The idea behind it was to offer simple, unpretentious but authentic Italian food (Pizza more specifically) We wanted to create a place where people could meet and share good food, good company and a good laugh.
Some people will start a business to make money, some to solve a problem, others simply out of passion. I definitely started Pecoro because I am passionate about good food and it is the sort of place I would go to if I worked in it already.
I have worked in restaurants and hotel kitchens since I was 15 (I am 42 now). Food has always been a big part of my life. IN 2003 I moved to London with the aim of becoming a Food & Beverage manager and after a few years of training and hard work I reached my goal. A Food and Beverage manager, in simple words, manages all departments in a Hotel that have to do with (you guessed it) food and beverages, namely Banqueting & Events, Room Service, Restaurants and Bars. In this role you are basically running a business, so opening my own didn't seem very daunting.
Having said that opening a pizzeria is not for everyone.
It is a high-pressure business. It's a service that requires delivery then and there, often within a limited time window. In the UK, everybody wants to eat between 6pm and 7:30pm. According to a study carried out by Just Eat, the busiest time for takeaways is 7:24pm (very precise, I know). If you consider the fact that money is at stake, it is easy to understand why some people are just not cut out for the lengthy working hours and the endless daily to-do list. If you want to witness how stressful this environment can be, you only have to turn on the TV and watch 'Kitchen Nightmares' with Gordon Ramsay, and you will see exactly what I mean. For your ease (and my sanity), I have divided the series into five parts.
I believe to be successful in business a person must be resilient, hard working and adaptable. The pandemic has tested all businesses very hard and I believe those that survived had those characteristics.
Let's also not forget the numbers. There is no point being the best business in the world if you can't turn a profit. You don't need to be a math wizard, but you need to have a grasp of the numbers. How much staff costs you, how much a Margherita costs you, how much you pay for Electricity and Gas. In particular you need to spot where you spend money that may not be accounted for in your budget. This typically happens when you throw away food that may be expired or maybe when you accidentally burn a pizza. One of the biggest costs in our business is labour and one must always think about what impact small expenses have in the long run. For example badly planning opening times or staff shifts can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Say you pay your staff £10 an hour and you have too many staff at closing time. Wasting 1 labour hour every day will cost you £3650 a year (£10 per hour x 365 days).
Alan shares his experiences, struggles and tips to help other small restaurant operators.