Taking the decision to leave his position as operations manager at successful bar and restaurant group Rising Star Leisure, Jayke Mangion opened his first solo venture, Entrée, in Battersea Rise just seven weeks ago.
How I got here:
I studied Business at university in Australia and got into sales and marketing and advertising. Then, one day a mate of mine asked me to help out at his bar which was short staffed. The second I jumped behind the bar I absolutely loved it and knew this industry was what I wanted to work in.
So I quit my job and started from scratch by taking a job with Accor hotels. I worked in several in Queensland in bottom rung positions like bartender and waiter just to gather some experience.
I soon moved to Tokyo and started working in bars there, but I knew I really wanted to move to the UK to evolve my experience. The only way to do that was to get an EU passport, which, because of my father being Maltese, involved me having to live a year in Malta first. I worked in several hotels and bars there, which was a real culture shock, going from a city with a population of 7 million to a country of 300,000.
So when I eventually moved to the UK I spent some time working at a couple of gastropubs before I joined Rising Star Leisure as part of their opening management team. I worked with Steve Calley for six years, opening sites like The People’s Republic Bar in Clapham and The Establishment in Battersea.
After opening the Establishment I moved into an operational role where I gained some good insight into what it takes to run a business.
It wasn’t until last year that I thought I’d have a go at running a restaurant for myself. So I quit my highly paid job and went looking for a site. I finally found this one and Entree has been open now for seven weeks. Trading was hard at first because we have a very dark interior and no alfresco seating, so when we opened right at the start of summer, no-one really came. But now things are going really well, and I think our food and drink offering is just right for this affluent area of Battersea.
My biggest achievement:
I’m proud of the fact I came to London seven years ago with just a backpack and a desire to gain experience. Within that short time I’ve learned about business and the industry and opened my own company with just one other minor investor, not only in London but also on Battersea Rise, which is a very affluent area.
My hardest decision:
It was hard to leave such a high paid job with Rising Star Leisure. I was reaping the awards of six years’ commitment with them and was getting a really good wage. I could have just tread water for the next three years living that lifestyle but I had to take this step.
I would never have had this opportunity to open my own business if it wasn’t for my girlfriend Joanna. She totally supported me when I left my high income to pursue this and has been my sole support as far as paying rent and living goes.
I have admiration for:
I admire the Renaissance Pubs group because they started off small and are going great guns by the looks of things. The Avalon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Also I admire the Be at One bartender boys. They were just a bunch of mates and now they’re one of the most reputable and profitable bar operators in the UK. They are showing that you can be successful even with no money if you take it back to the basics of delivering good hospitality.
My future plans:
My ambition for Entrée is to build it into a quality neighbourhood restaurant and bar. I want somewhere where you can get that regular clientele and that’s able to maintain a good reputation. I’d like to build this whole thing up bit by bit - potentially two or three reputable operations in five years time, focusing in South West London and then who knows. I’ll just repeat the process that I went through with my previous employer.
They started with one bar and ended up with five or six venues in the same amount of years. That’s the objective for me too, but my cash flow isn’t quite so big. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, just create a lifestyle for myself where I’m able to work in the industry I love and have time for partner and family.