If you’re looking for a restaurant in Winchester, you’re spoilt for choice these days- Rick Stein, River Café, Brasserie Blanc, Chesil Rectory and the Michelin starred Black Rat, to name but a few. Nevertheless a huge number of us are mourning the loss of Bangkok Brasserie in Jewry Street.
The owner Miff Kayum is a local man who is a restaurateur to the core. He has created a number of wonderful eateries over the years but the jewel in his crown was Bangkok Brasserie. Sadly, by his own admission, his business skills appear not to have matched his culinary expertise.
Like so any small businesses, it ran up debts. It’s easily done. Cash flow is always a problem.
Most of us expect income to be greater and outgoings to be less than turns out to be the case. I doubt any of us would start a business if we dwelt on all the things that can go wrong. You have to be an optimist to be in business.
When my wife and I launched a retail business a few years ago, we worked out that we would be profitable in two years and we’d be opening a second shop in three. In fact, it took us five years to do more than make a living.
It was fortunate we had sufficient capital because we ended up pouring into the business about twice what we had anticipated.
As I understand it, Miff’s debts were mainly to the taxman. Given the large numbers of loyal customers and the fantastic reviews on Trip Advisor (in the top ten Winchester restaurants), anyone would think he was on to a winner. You couldn’t blame Miff for thinking it was only a matter of time before things turned around.
His experience is a lesson to any of us who run or are thinking about starting a small business. Firstly, you must have the right temperament: being an entrepreneur is not for the faint hearted. Secondly, financial control is essential. Thirdly, if something goes wrong, you have to take the knock, pick yourself up and carry on. ‘Once bitten twice shy’ doesn’t form part of an entrepreneur’s thinking.
In Miff Kayum’s case, it’s been a very public humiliation, with prominent stories in the local newspaper charting his downfall. No matter. He’s resilient and remains as hungry for success as his customers are for his food. Only next time he will know a lot more about how to make his business as good as his menu.