Opening Gerardo’s Restaurant
Gerardo’s Restaurant 1999-2000
My first project was back in 1999, a fresh-faced 27 years old, with a business partner we opened a Mediterranean Restaurant, called Gerardo’s in a town outside of Glasgow.
On Graham street in Airdrie, Gerry & I opened a restaurant together. Gerry had a successful cooking career, learning his trade in the classics and carrying a fantastic reputation as Head Chef. He also had spotted this opportunity in his local town, which was not well serviced for good dining experiences. I had been restaurant manager, learning the full range of hospitality skills through a successful upward career from travels across Europe. Learning front of house and back of house from working in the Mediterranean.
We bought the lease and goodwill of business in August 1999, and worked on site under previous owner from early summer 1999 to assess the business. Both with personal savings and a good Business plan drawn up to secure finance from the bank, we were well on the way starting our first business adventure together.
After assessing local eateries, it was obvious this town near Glasgow had no good restaurants to speak of . So we looked here while working together at the local football club. It was clear we worked well together and complimented each others skills and so felt it was a natural fit. Although having been cautioned about difficulties in sharing business, we both felt confident in a shared vision. The potential of the area, possibility for growth and reasonable price rents available combined to inspire our venture. Even before opening, the feedback was good from the local community and we were quickly made at home. The enthusiasm spread as news spread of coming launch party we had planned. With a frantic week of renovations, we co-ordinated the makeover from a dreary, dimly lit and tired looking property into a brand new shiny
Our background had both been shaped by traditional European cooking. Gerry from the French classics, Italian cuisines learning from the top old skool restaurants in Glasgow and beyond.
Ewan had worked and travelled extensively throughout Europe, especially the Med and central Europe. His background in hospitality started in bars and restaurants where menus were often based on fresh daily specials, he learned to art of cocktail making, wine & liqueur knowledge.
The business evolved quickly and we both agreed on the style we wanted to capture. We wanted offer our clients an experience of the Mediterranean but on their doorstep. So when you entered, everything from the decor, our people, the ambience, our food & drink would transport them to memories of their holidays in the Med.
We refurbished the premises with a new carpet with blue/aqua’s flowing to and on lower walls(representing the bright colours of the sea), moving up to yellows further up the walls(representing sunny sky). While renovating we realised our budget constraints, with much of our capital being used for lease purchase, gutting the kitchen, updating all crockery and upholstery. So, we decided to stagger developments in the project to protect cashflow.
Some of the added touches to improve the atmosphere I had wanted to carry out were to cover the full tiled false ceiling to coloured black with tiny pinhole lights, creating a dramatic starlit night above; I had been given use of a full size fishing net from an enthusiastic customer to hang providing a blanket canopy effect. Then, midway down the restaurant, where natural pillars would suit trees meeting at the top in the middle of the restaurant to complete the vision we had of a coastal terraced taverna.
Our local signwriter who specialised in handmade signs suggested an inspired idea of large oblong paintings that were designed to hang on the wall depicting beautiful med coastal scenery were in fact dual purpose to be put over tables to make longer tables for larger parties.
The bar was updated and transformed to provide for cocktails with a generous wine rack. We had also started to renovate the front part of the restaurant to incorporate a carry out facility for future use.
The Restaurant story continues here:
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