Pip Lacey on opening Hicce: 'The negotiations made me and Gordy sick'

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 29th August 2019

When you think of opening a restaurant, you may think of soft launches, putting together a team and marketing yourself - none of this was daunting for Pip Lacey, the joint chef owner of Hicce in London. 

What she and her partner Gordy McIntyre found most difficult were the interim stages - looking for investors and trying to find a property -  as it meant months of uncertainty and lots of disappointments. 

This feature appeared as part of a series about how to open your own restaurant.

Other chefs include

Tommy Heaney, Heaney's

Emily Roux, Caractère

Tommy Banks, Roots

Scott Smith, Fhior

Richard Johns, The Hovingham Inn 

Michel Roux Jr, Le Gavroche

Simon Bonwick, The Crown

Sat Bains, Restaurant Sat Bains 

Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster

"That was the hardest thing," she said.

"Getting up in the morning and going: 'okay, we had investment, we had a property yesterday and now that's all gone. That was the most emotional, heart wrenching, brain-f***ing kind of thing. That was the struggle."

Once they'd secured their site and the funding, "the next struggle was getting it over the line. The negotiations literally made me and Gordy sick, it was horrendous."

Stress management will benefit you, your team and your business 

Before, she admits, she was quite an impatient, short-fused person, but opening Hicce taught her to relax - "which is nice, because you'd think it'd be the opposite, that it would make me really f****g crazy." 

Hicce

"You've just got to get used to the hiccups -  not just accept them, but get used to them and learn how to deal with them. I

think that's really the biggest learning curve," she said.

"Waiting on things to be delivered like furniture and plates' - I ordered plates weeks ago, they're still not here. So it's like: 'they'll come when they come, I can't hurry that process up because hurrying that process isn't going to make them come quicker.'" 

You're nothing without a business plan 

To attract investment, you have to back yourself up with numbers. Even Pip's mentor, Angela Hartnett, only agreed to pitch in  on the basis of a solid business plan. 

The chef said that finding a location for the restaurant helped too, as it gave them "a tangible thing to say to someone: 'look, this is the site, this is the dream' - rather than just a drawing on a piece of paper." 

Learn how to pitch and negotiate - and don't back down

 

When you're looking for investors, the chef explained, you have to get your name out there.

From pop-ups, social media and angel investment pitches to asking friends of friends, Pip and Gordy did as much as they could bear. "It's a bit like selling your soul," she joked. 

Despite having found the ideal investors, the chef regrets having "rolled over" on certain things. 

"Just because you want things so badly, sometimes you just go: 'yeah okay, we'll do that, we'll pay that' and then afterwards you're like 'f**k's sake, we didn't have to pay that.'"

Another important thing to learn once you've found backers, she said, is to stand your ground; and a hefty helping of self-belief comes in handy. 

"You have to have some conviction in the end - without crossing over to arrogance - otherwise why are you doing it."

Having a business partner could well see you through 

Now that they're settled in, she said, the day-to-day at Hicce is the same as running any other restaurant - but "no way in hell" would she have done it on her own. 

"For something this size, you need that compadre person, that other person to bounce off and to pick you up." 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 29th August 2019

Pip Lacey on opening Hicce: 'The negotiations made me and Gordy sick'