How I Got Here: Bill Collison

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bill Collison Bill's

Related tags: Bill's, Casual dining

Bill Collison founded Bill's Produce Store and Cafe in 2001. A few years later, the Lewes and Brighton-based business attracted the attention of mid-market maestros Andy Bassadone and Chris Benians, who have turned the business into a national chain.

Why restaurants?
It was more luck than judgement. Actually, bad luck. Bill’s started as a green grocer before a flood forced me to start from scratch.

What do you do in your spare time?
Gardening. Lots of it!

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
River Café. Its focus on seasonal ingredients is second to none.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
I'd be a better father! My wife would say a better husband, too.

What motivates you?
Putting on a show and seeing happy people in Bill’s.

Where was your last holiday​?
Maison Marmalade – amazing, Google it.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Tania Webb, my sister law. None of Bill’s would ever have happened without her and now Chris Benians, one of our business partners.

What keeps you up at night?
Tasks that I can never get to the bottom of.

Worst business decision?
Doing things too quickly.

Best business decision?
Starting Bill’s. A big journey, so many stories, so many friends. 

What are you reading at the moment?
I just manage to catch up on the Sunday supplements before Sunday comes around again.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Never forget what’s in your heart. Be true and honest to yourself. When you’re not, that’s when things go wrong.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
This is a hard one. I’m not sure that I would. It’s never been such a challenge as it is today but that’s no bad thing. It keeps you on your toes.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Casual Dining

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