Meze, a start-up restaurant run by a mother and daughter in Ellesmere, Shropshire, is set to fly in 2018 after exceeding original sales expectations by 10% in its first year of trading.
The restaurant serves a range of responsibly-sourced traditional dishes from Greece and Cyprus, including Souvlaki, Moussaka, Stifado and Papoutsakia – all made using genuine Greek produce combined with local fresh and healthy ingredients.
Inspired by a love for Greek cuisine, Deborah Melkis, 57, and daughter Elena, 34, founded Meze in February 2017 after realising there was a demand for authentic Greek food only typically found in bigger cities further afield.
Foodie fan, and self-taught chef, Deborah lived in Cyprus for thirty years and during this time developed a real passion for cooking authentic feel-good food. She mastered the art of crafting traditional recipes packed with different flavours and fresh ingredients. On her return to the UK, Deborah wanted to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to her home-town by launching her own restaurant.
After spotting a gap in the market in Ellesmere, and in partnership with daughter Elena, Deborah put her plan into place. The duo each secured a low-interest loan from the government-backed The Start Up Loans Company. The combined funding of £40,000 helped kick-start their venture with the purchase of a leased restaurant space, plus new equipment and stock.
One year on the business now employs five people, including one apprentice from Oswestry College, and frequently serves over 200 local and tourist customers each week.
Following the financial success of Meze, the entrepreneurial mother-daughter duo are already planning their expansion including taking their great Greek food to festivals and weddings using a trendy mobile food truck.
Deborah Melkis, co-founder of Meze, said: “We are not only celebrating the first-year anniversary of our business, but the fact that my daughter and I have been given such a fantastic opportunity to work together doing something we both love.
“After spending 30 years in Cyprus, I developed a real love for cooking authentic and healthy Greek food. Plus, when I moved back to the UK I wanted to spend as much time with my daughter as possible. Embarking on a business venture that we are both passionate about has allowed us to build something that supports us financially, whilst allowing us to spend our days together.
“The Start Up Loans Company teamed up with Biz Britain who not only provided us with the funding, but also essential advice and mentoring support in the early stages. The process was completely new to me and my family, and I’m convinced that their advice and support has led to the success of our business.
“After a successful year, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of 2018 which started with our first marriage proposal at the restaurant this Valentines Day! We take enormous pride in having created an environment where our guests choose to come for the landmark events in their lives, that was always our aim and it feels great to have achieved that”.
Joanna Hill, interim CEO at The Start Up Loans Company, said: “Deborah and Elena have made real progress in their first year as business owners. Having reached their first anniversary with plans to expand their service offerings highlights the hard work and graft put into making Meze a real success.
“Starting your own restaurant business isn’t for the faint-hearted, but Deborah and Elena’s passion for driving this forward shows how the hard work is worth it. For anyone considering starting-up and becoming a first-time business owner, we’d encourage them to make the most of the guidance and support available.”