Thursday, 23 September 2021

Let's Get Down to Business: Nuno Rosado

Let's Get Down to Business: Nuno Rosado

NUNO ROSADO is a Henley restaurateur and pub landlord. Born and raised in Portugal, he came to Henley 30 years ago with only £20 in his pocket, which he had borrowed from his sister. He lives in Shiplake with his partner Ondine Carrington and her son Alexander, 22. Ondine works in the businesses. Nuno is passionate about motor sport and wishes he had more time to enjoy driving his cherished Aston Martin.

Describe your business

I am chef/proprietor of The Square in Market Place and Al Forno in Reading Road and landlord of the Old Bell in Bell Street. The Square specialises in typical Portuguese cooking, especially fish, although we also cater for meat-eaters and vegetarians. Al Forno is an authentic Italian restaurant and the Old Bell is a traditional British pub serving great beer. I cook in Al Forno and also in The Square. I get up at 2am on Tuesdays and Fridays to drive to Billingsgate Fish Market in order to buy high quality fresh fish and seafood.

How many people does it employ?

At the moment 18 full-time staff and some part-timers.

What did you do before you started this business?

When I came to Henley with virtually no money I got a job washing up in a local restaurant, Santinos, after seeing an advertisement in the Henley Standard. I eventually became the chef at Casa Nostra, which many people will remember was where Al Forno now is, and was there for many years.

When did you start your business?

Nine years ago I opened KOKO, a club in Bell Street (now the Bull). In August 2013 I opened The Square in the premises previously occupied by Chef Peking. In May 2016 I opened Al Forno, then in April last year I became the landlord of the Old Bell.

What was your objective in starting your business?

Having worked for so many years in a restaurant, I always wanted to have one of my own. I come from Sagres, a fishing village in the most south-easterly point of the Algarve, and my father, my grandfather and my brother were all fishermen and were good cooks, so I’ve been involved with seafood all my life.

What or who influenced you?

When I saw the opportunity it was Ondine who encouraged me to open KOKO.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

Not really. When I see an opportunity I go for it. I follow my own gut instinct.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

I never have any regrets. Every day for me is a great day. I wake up happy every day.

How is your business doing?

We are up on last year, I’m happy to say.

How do you market your business?

We use social media. The Square has a great location and benefits from a lot of passing trade. It also has a good website. Al Forno has a great following from local people.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Meeting so many nice people. It’s a customer-focused business and I get so much pleasure from seeing people enjoying themselves.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

It’s a very big challenge to find staff, even though we pay good wages and provide food and accommodation. Since the UK voted to leave the EU it has become even more difficult as the number of people coming here from Spain and Portugal has dropped dramatically.

Where is your business headed?

If I could solve the problem of getting sufficient good staff I’d open another restaurant.

How important are online sales?

Lots of people book tables online but many still call too!

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

That I am the face of my business. I try to make all my customers feel welcome and special.

What would you advise someone starting a business?

Make sure you know what you are doing. Don’t get involved in things where you don’t have the experience.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

I should have started much earlier.

What three qualities are most important to succeed?

Persistence, determination and a positive attitude. I really believe in “the law of attraction”.

What’s the secret of your success?

I’m prepared to take chances — big ones.

How organised are you?

Very — with two restaurants and a pub I have to be.

How do you dress for work each day?

I try to look smart.

What can’t you be without every day?

I like my cup of Portuguese espresso coffee every morning.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

Whichever one of my restaurants I am in at the time.

What do you read?

I’m a petrol-head, so lots of car, motor sport and Formula One magazines.

How are you planning for retirement?

All I can say is that I will never leave Henley.

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