H.E.A.T up your future – open your own business!
Whether you are a school pupil, adult returner or a current student, and you want to H.E.A.T up your future, there will be lots of exciting and diverse opportunities for you to choose from. We have spoken to people working in this vibrant sector who showcase the best of what Ayrshire has to offer in the Hospitality, Events and Tourism industry.
Next in our 'H.E.A.T up your Future' blog series is Vicky Newall. She tells us how studying HND Hospitality at Ayrshire College led to her setting up her own business as the Owner of the Venice Cafe in Troon.
Tell us about your new business venture?
“The café is the oldest running café in Troon since around 1947. It’s an iconic venue in the town. We have a lot of regular customers, as well as people who have moved away from the area but will pop in when they’re visiting. One of our customers even met his wife here 35 years ago!
I took on the café the week before Christmas last year. It was a real challenge at the time, but I’ve worked extremely hard, and I’m now in a position to expand, and I am about to extend into the premises upstairs.
We’re building up a good reputation, and on the weekends we’re having to turn away tables as we’re so busy. Having upstairs will double our capacity. It has a bar, so we’re hoping to get a drink’s licence. I’d like to use the space as a function room for meetings etc during the week. I employ eight staff, and my brother works with me too. I have lots of ideas!
Our coffee is Italian, and all of our produce is locally sourced. We don’t compromise on quality. The café focuses on a vegan menu, and it has been really well received. So much so, that we now have quite a few local vegan regulars; people come from Glasgow, and even as far away as Bath.
We offer something for everyone, and if we don’t offer it, we will make it for you!
Tell us about your hospitality journey
I first went to college when I was 16 to study Hospitality at the Kilmarnock campus and absolutely loved it. I had my first job in the Hospitality industry when I was 17 and have basically never left the kitchen environment since!
Working in this industry has taken me all over Scotland, firstly travelling to the Isle of Arran - working in the Kinloch Hotel. I was really inspired by the owner who was Vegan. I started writing my own vegan recipes in my time there. This is where it all really began for me, my passion behind being a chef. (I still have those recipe books!).
I travelled all over Scotland for about eight years, working for an agency. I worked in Edinburgh, Perthshire, Isle of Mull, Harris and Skye.
I found that in these kind of places there was the opportunity to work with the freshest local ingredients, and it was fabulous creating menus using this produce. Tourists come from all over the world to sample the local produce. It was exciting to be part of the tourism industry promoting the best of what Scotland has to offer.
Why come back to college?
I had the chance to rent and run a bistro kitchen in Prestwick, but I found that I didn’t have the financial backing or the management skills I needed at the time. It also proved more difficult as my children were quite young, and I was out of the house working for long hours which didn’t really suit me at the time.
This prompted me to think about what I really wanted out of a career. I knew that I wanted to run my own business and be independent, so I came back to college to study Hospitality Management.
All the way through the course, I was very focused and I’m using the things I’ve learned in college for my own business now. I’ve applied it to things such as gross profit margins, costings, how to prevent running into financial problems etc.
For me to gain the business knowledge was really important, and it now allows me to turn over a profit and even expand the business.
I would never have been able to do this without the college. The lecturers, who are some of the best in the industry, have got so much experience, knowledge and enthusiasm. They instilled the importance of giving your customer a great hospitality experience, and about customer expectation and how that can affect your business. It’s about the customer walking out of your business feeling that they’ve had a great lunch and a great experience, so they’ll come back again.
I would say embrace every opportunity at college. The support I have received has been second to none, as with 2 young children, it was sometimes hard to juggle college life with my family life. It really helped me to believe that I could keep going and I could do it!”