January 4, 2019 |
Nick Alvis, along with his co-founder Scott Price, worked for Gordon Ramsay for fifteen years in London, Paris and Dubai, before leaving to launch their own restaurant in Dubai in 2011. Over the next two years they won a string of awards and accolades. They worked together to create the Taste Kitchen brand, before starting their own company and opening folly by Nick & Scott with Gates Hospitality. In 2018, they opened their first pub, The Lion by Nick & Scott.
What led to your decision to open this business?
Myself and Scott used to talk on our days off in London while having a pint or two, and we always had goal and a dream to open a restaurant together, creating and cooking our own style of food, and creating our own style of restaurant ambience. Several years passed and when Scott was asked to move to Dubai and re-launch Verre by Gordon Ramsay, he was quickly on the phone to me suggesting I go with him to be the head chef as he needed to oversee the entire hotel F&B operation as part of the deal with Hilton and Gordon. With very little consideration, I jumped at the chance of the opportunity. After about 12 months, we were told Hilton and Gordon would not be renewing contracts so we saw an opportunity to turn the space into this idea that we had always talked about. It just seemed a no-brainer that we end the Verre days and re-launch as our own place, thus bringing table 9 by Nick and Scott to life. After two very successful years, we hoped to take ‘table 9’ further and could see no real chance of doing so with the existing space, location, and very little investment available to us. So, we shook hands and began the search for a space with all of the right attributes. We were after the chance to begin the second part of our journey (which was then called ‘super restaurant’).
After a few years, lots of promises, and several meetings with potential investors we eventually met Naim Maadad, set up our own company, and agreed to partner with Gates Hospitality to help us find the location and space that would help us bring our dream to life.
What were the three biggest obstacles along the way and how did you overcome each one?
The decision to set up our own company name and not be an employee anymore as such was a big deal. Moving this far away from your home country is tough, but the security of hotels providing what they do was a huge bonus for a good few years. Stepping away from that is one thing, however going at it alone as your own company is something else entirely.
Getting the first venue open from being an empty shell was a huge challenge considering the size of Folly and the level that we wanted it to be perceived as. It really is a week-long pressure to ensure that things tick along as they should, and although things are the best that they ever have been, there are still problems that we face on a daily basis from the original fit-out. Every venue is different and has its own niggles as we know, but on a whole it is great doing things your own way. Obviously mistakes are made, but you must learn from the first time and be alert in preventing them from ever happening again.
Unfortunately, a ‘same old same old’ one here but I will have to say that building a team to create a restaurant that has no real identity (other than Scott and myself) to launch, manage and operate a 100% brand new concept is very tough indeed.
What were the three most rewarding moments in your career?
Getting the doors open at Folly (which took forever), winning Time Out ‘European Restaurant of the Year’, and having our own pub.
What one piece of advice would you give fellow entrepreneurs?
Be prepared for personal sacrifice and never stop believing in your dreams.
What are your thoughts on the future of F&B and the industry?
I was always told that by choosing to be a chef, I would always have work as people need to eat. With that in mind, I can only ever believe that the F&B industry will always succeed in one way or another. Trends come and go, and as chefs and bartenders are the new super heroes in the world, who knows what’s next. The industry is so diverse I cannot ever see it being anything other than a great sector to be involved in and a great platform to be as creative as you wish, while being able to help others grow around you.
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