Joe Davis, 59, started his restaurant Panama Joe’s in 2016.
He now employs two other members of staff and has a projected turnover of £156,000 for his first year of trading, with numerous 5-star reviews on Facebook and Tripadvisor praising the great food, cocktails and friendly service.
He says launching his restaurant turned his life around:
“I knew I wanted to turn my life around and realised that I didn’t have a lot of options. Starting a business was something I’d considered and I knew that this might be my last shot to makes things work.”
Joe’s Littlehampton-based restaurant serves Mexican, Panamanian and Caribbean dishes, with all of the food made by using only locally sourced produce. Like many start ups he struggled to get traditional bank funding but eventually applied successfully for a £20,000 Start Up Loan. He spent on initial rent and bill payments, new kitchen units and kitting out the restaurant premises by re-plastering and painting to give the right feel to complement the food.
“Cooking has always been a passion of mine. I’d worked as a chef previously and realised that this was something I could do on my own. I felt if I threw myself into something I love like great food and cooking, it would really help drive me to turn my life around.”
Joe also says that finally having his own venture gives him a new sense of purpose.
“Everyone always says starting your own business is rewarding and satisfying, but I had no idea how true that would be. I just thought it was something people say. Now, I feel like I’ve left my old life behind me and I have a new lease of life.”