Simply because I love everything about what a good restaurant should represent - amazing food, drink, and atmosphere where you get to spend precious time with friends and family.
Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
To always believe in myself, stick to my instinct, and only work with good, honest, passionate people.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to eat out and travel as much as possible, alongside fierce grace yoga for fitness and my sanity.
What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
Kricket, Indian food is my favourite so I’m always dubious when chefs try a modern twist but Kricket have nailed it. The dishes are exciting and innovative but still packed with flavour and served in super cool, chilled spaces, I love it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
Working with wildlife and the environment.
What motivates you?
Success and happiness. Seeing the restaurants busy and buzzing with happy customers and a happy team is the best feeling. One does not happen without the other. I’m really lucky to have some amazing, genuine and talented people working with me which helps to make this all possible.
Where was your last holiday?
Costa Rica. I loved it so much I can’t wait to go back, it’s an incredible forward-thinking country, that we should all be taking notice of. It draws 90% of its sources from sustainable energy and was the first country to announce its intention to eradicate single use plastic. The fresh produce is amazing, Costa Ricans take great pride in their produce and the abundance that they can provide - it’s safe to say whatever you’re eating is grown locally and sustainably.
Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
My background was in fashion, I had no experience in the restaurant industry, so I had to learn the hard way, but I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and gain knowledge from some great people who have joined the Pi team over the years. I have also found a friend in Kevin Bacon, the former managing director of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants. He’s been a constant source of positivity and support to me since opening a second Pi in Battersea. The biggest influence in my life and my approach to business is my dad, Jeremy Whaley. My fountain of knowledge and my absolute rock.
What keeps you up at night?
Lack of staff and my German Shepherd puppy Sasha.
Worst business decision?
Employing the wrong people and believing they know more than you. No one knows your business like you do, never doubt yourself.
Best business decision?
At the very start of my venture I worked in the best pizzeria called ZeroZero pizzeria in Florence and without them I would never have known how to make the best pizza on the planet.
What are you reading at the moment?
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Keep your food, drinks and staff cost in line, but consistent quality is the absolute key to building your business. Never lose sight of that and hold onto the people that help you to achieve this.
If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
The over saturated current market and pending Brexit is making, and will continue to make, the industry a tough environment to find staff and source produce at a maintainable price point - for the foreseeable future at any rate.
1985 Born in Winchester
Studied at Chelsea Art School and London College of Fashion
2005-2012 Fashion buyer for Designer Room
2014 Founded Pi Pizza