Our REAL AWMB this week is Romy Gill, Chef and Entrepreneur behind Romy’s Kitchen a restaurant in Bristol. Romy’s Kitchen opened in September 2013 on Castle Street in Thornbury. The family-oriented restaurant is fast becoming known for its nutritious, well-styled and authentic Indian food, serving a range of dishes that you are unlikely to find on the menus of many British Indian restaurants. They have recently been shortlisted for ‘Best Newcomer’ in British Curry Awards. We asked Romy to share with us her business journey and of course her top tips for ladies wanting to start their businesses!
What made you want to start your own business?
I moved to the UK 20 years ago, to a new place with no friends, family and to a different culture. I craved to eat ‘home’ food so my hubby took me to Indian restaurants. I was shocked! All the food tasted the same and were in such artificial vibrant colours. That day I decided I want to open my own restaurant. It took a long time but I learnt a lot in those early years.
How did you come up with your idea?
Once I had my 2 daughters I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and started to teach people private cookery lessons, I contacted different cookery schools some rejected me but some invited me to teach. At the same time I started part-time catering which gave me the confidence of interacting with people and their encouragement helped me open my restaurant.
What’s been the toughest part of the journey?
My journey has not been easy at all, being self taught meant I had to prove to others this was not a spontaneous decision – I had to prove I was not a crazy woman who woke up one day and wanted to open a restaurant! 3 Banks refused me until Natwest helped me with the loan. It took me 3 years to get the planning permission to open a restaurant. Another 8 – 9 months of fighting with the builders to finish and being a woman, my God was not easy !
What are your fears?
I don’t want to give anyone the satisfaction of saying ‘look she failed’. I work 16 hours a day, juggle to see my family and also train for the Marathon to raise money for the Frankwater charity as I am their Ambassador.
What are your hopes?
I want people to come from far to taste and appreciate my food! I hope to set an example for other women who want to work in this male dominated industry.
How did you come up with your business plan?
My husband is very supportive he is behind all my success. We wrote what we have, what we need and how we will achieve that.
How have you financed the business?
My husband sold his shares, some savings and above all I sold all my gold jewellery.
What do your family and friends think of it?
My husband & my daughters are my rock! My friends have helped me when times have gotten tough and wiped my tears! They have all encouraged me to see what I have achieved and how far I have come.
What sacrifices have you had to make to get to where you are right now?
I had to prove to other chefs that I can do this. I hardly saw my family and friends, 4 years of struggles have made me a stronger but less patient person.
What are you most proud of?
Romy’s kitchen has become a brand people know! I am invited to judge other cooking events and be a speaker to encourage women to follow their dreams.
What are your tips for any other ladies wanting to start a business?
You have to have a DREAM! Be passionate about what you do. Never be afraid to fight for what you believe in. There will always be discouraging people but never give up and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.