We have heard a lot about the notion of green shoots appearing in the economy this year, but few have actually taken action and decided to start new ventures. One family, Fiore Macari and Anna Mancini, have taken up the challenge, however, and they are looking forward to 2015.
“My wife and I have been in the food business for the past 16 years,” says Fiore, as he explains the idea behind his family’s latest venture. “I think things are starting to change – there is an upturn in the economy, so my wife and I decided to start this venture. We found a very good location – a great site near the high street in Ashbourne – I feel that with the experience that we have got, that there is huge potential here for a real, authentic Italian restaurant.”
Fiore emphasised that things are starting to pick up, and he sees a bit of an upturn in the economy. “People are starting to go out and spend a lot more – you also notice people going out more frequently. Whereas maybe two to three years ago, it could have been maybe once a month…now it’s starting to become once every 10 days, once a week. I think in this line of business there is a good future,” he says.
What Mancini’s Have to Offer Over Others
“We are a very authentic Italian restaurant,” says Fiore, who believes that there is a huge demand for exactly that in Ashbourne. “I don’t think there is anything like it…again what differentiates us from others is the location, the ambience, our service, the food, and the presentation…all across the board we excel! I’m at the business all my working life – my wife and I felt that there was a gap in the market in Ashbourne, and I feel that we are a lot different from other restaurants in the area.”
Long Term Goal
Fiore’s long-term goal is to establish the Mancini’s Italian brand by building up a brand name in the market, plus looking at producing their own product line within the Mancini’s Italian brand. He believes that they will probably start selling the new brand in-house. They also have plans for a little deli section, which is something that they are looking at launching in the New Year. “Customers may want to bring some little goodies home with them, and the deli will be there for that,” he says. Fiore is also looking at Mancini’s recipes for the product range. “Building the product range and the brand name ‘Mancini’s’ is the long-term plan,” says Fiore.
Hiccups on the Way?
According to Fiore, the layout of the property is excellent. However, sometimes the location can be a bit challenging. They are located off the main square, which can be bit hidden: “We probably didn’t foresee the challenge in getting people here in the late evening. We are maybe a bit further back from all the main passing trade. But in saying that, being different – which is what we are – being an authentic Italian restaurant, the ambience and layout, I think that’s what will attract more people to the restaurant. It’s a work in progress, and we are only 4 months into it.” Fiore is involved with the Ashbourne Chamber of Commerce, and hosts the business network meeting in his restaurant, which also raises the profile of his restaurant with other businesses in Ashbourne. “We do a lot of work with the chamber – they are very proactive,” says Fiore.
SME Credit from Banks
According to Fiore, his relationship with his bank has been good, but they still don’t have an overdraft facility. “With the limited lending, it makes business more challenging. It’s very difficult to source credit – we have been able to fund this venture ourselves without any bank, but in saying that, going into the future and with our long-term goals, we would hope to engage with our bank and look at maybe getting a business loan in our future endeavours to help in progressing with the Mancini’s brand.”
The Importance of Staff
“Staff are of huge importance to the business! If you don’t have the right people, especially in the front of house, who are representing you…who are selling the restaurant, selling your products, who are selling you…you are not going to be successful. Finding staff isn’t too difficult. However, finding the right people isn’t as easy. Motivating them and getting them really interested in what they are doing is the key thing. I do believe that if you are a good boss and you lead by example, you will get good people, and they will follow you in the direction you want them to go. Staff are very important, absolutely,” he says.
Business Wish List for 2015
Fiore’s wishes for 2015 are simple: his wish is to expand the business, and get new customers coming into the restaurant. “Again the long-term goal is to brand the Mancini’s Italian name with a product range of fresh pastas, fresh sauces and then going forward probably into retail, that’s the goal, and we will possibly be looking at a second site in the New Year not too far away from here. I’m not saying in Ashbourne – a bit further than that, I think the concept is working the menu, that’s our long-term goal. That’s what myself and Anna are looking forward to in 2015.”