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

The  Staff Canteen

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.

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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

 

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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." 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

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'