Deborah and Elena Melkis used a Start Up Loan to open their Meze Greek Restaurant in Ellesmere, North Shropshire, and work at the business full-time.
Prior to starting the business, Deborah was a dance teacher and choreographer for twenty-five years and an Insurance Claims Adjuster and Director for ten years. Elena was a theatre technician in London’s West End for two years and also worked in the hospitality industry, in the UK and in Cyprus.
It has been a dream of Deborah’s for many years to open a restaurant in a friendly environment where people want to get together and share good homemade food and make a good memories. When she returned to the UK from Cyprus she realised that a Greek restaurant would be the perfect vehicle to fulfil that ambition. So, when the opportunity arose to make this dream a reality and to do so with her daughter she just knew that they had to make it happen. Creating a business with true Greek values of family, good food and good friends is what they aim to bring to their guests and they know from experience these are the winning elements for success.
Elena has always had her own plan to pursue a career within the hospitality industry. Using her experience gained throughout the years she spent working in the industry, she planned how she would create something of her own, especially something with family that expresses their culture and who they are. Like Deborah, she too believed that a Greek restaurant would be a great way to implement those ideas, retain that culture and family history that expresses them and share it with others.
The greatest challenge that Deborah and Elena faced initially was finding the money to buy the business. Because the previous owner’s decision to sell the premises was very quick and thus so was their decision to buy it, the funds were not immediately available. However, when they came across the Start Up Loans scheme, things moved quickly and were very straight forward. Since Meze opened the public response has been a full house almost every night.
In the future, Deborah and Elena plan to open the restaurant’s courtyard for summer dining and also introduce a takeaway option. They are planning to open a second venue more along the lines of a Greek Deli & Bistro with a takeaway service in the next couple of years. They currently employ a full time Greek chef and casual waiting staff and plan to open an opportunity for an apprentice assistant chef soon.
Deborah and Elena received mentoring and found it to be very useful; they were well supported during the loan application process and really appreciated all the helpful advice and suggestions given to them.
“Our experience with the whole Start Up Loans process has been extremely positive. We found the procedure really very simple, the website is very easy to navigate and gives access to lots of useful tools and information. Our delivery partners BizBritain, in particular Alison Wallace and Gary Lennon, have been amazing. From the very beginning they have been readily available to answer our questions, always there at the end of a phone and their encouragement and support has been truly impressive.
Taking this big step, while exciting, is also just a little nerve wracking but the team at BizBritain have held our hands every step of the way. The Start Up Loans programme really works, we could never have done it without them and will definitely give our highest recommendation to anyone looking to step into a new future and creating their own dream business.”