Scott Smith on opening Fhior: 'If you have a strong belief in what you want to create, put your money where your mouth is'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Now on his second restaurant launch, the chef owner of Fhior, Scott Smith, said his most valuable lessons were learnt on the job. 

Though they had to walk away from Norn, the chef and his wife Laura started  their new chapter in June last year, and haven't looked back since. 

We asked Scott what advice he would give to anyone who would like a restaurant of their own, this is what he said: 

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

Read our interviews with

Pip Lacey , Hicce

Tommy Heaney, Heaney's

Stay tuned for more!


No advice will prepare you for what's to come


In no way a reason not to ask for advice - as he did, and learnt a lot by doing so - the chef said that "once you're in it, there are so many variables that are going to be unique to your business."

"A huge part of it is actually learning on the job."


Building a strong team is key 


"Without the staff, you are a vision and some bricks and mortar, you're not really much more than that," he said, explaining that the variance in how successful each of his and his wife's restaurants openings have been was down to the people they surrounded themselves with. 

"You're not able to do it all yourself. You need to be able to delegate it to people who're capable of taking on quite large and stressful workloads and able to execute that." 

 If you can afford to, go it without investors



Though having backers might feel safer, the chef said he learned the hard way with the now defunct Norn that it is worth fronting your own (or your bank's) money if you can. 

"It's really attractive especially as a chef to have investors on board, it means you're not having to risk your own money and sometimes you get lucky and investors want to create something interesting and want to follow your vision," he said. 

"A huge amount of the time of course, it's called an investment because they want a return and they don't have the same long term view you might have."

"If you have a strong belief in what you want to create," he added: "Put your money where your mouth is."

Define your vision - and check your numbers add up


Just because you have the opportunity to open a restaurant doesn't mean it's the right time.

Before you propel yourself into what might be one of the hardest things you'll ever do, he said: "know what it is that you want to achieve, go over your numbers again and again to make sure that what you want to achieve is achievable financially because that can be a real shock to the system when you realise the dream you had won't actually work." 

Make sure there's a market for it


With competition as rife as it is, "the biggest thing is to research your market," he said.

Location is less important than one would think, but "if your market is quite already saturated, I'd be really careful of whether you're actually going to open the doors." 

Let the world know you're there 


While chefs can get away with just posting a few snaps on their Instagram, new restaurant owners should invest "a huge part of [their] budget in their marketing strategy."

"I'm personally terrible at it, I do a post a week which is not what I'm told I should be doing but it's about juggling that time." 

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall  – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 16 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 560,000 followers across Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 30th August 2019

Scott Smith on opening Fhior: 'If you have a strong belief in what you want to create, put your money where your mouth is'