How I Got Here: Katie Toogood

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with Prawn on the Lawn co-founder Katie Toogood

Related tags: Seafood, Restaurant

The co-founder of family-run fishmonger-come-restaurant Prawn on the Lawn on her love of hospitality, and why the sector is in ''desperate need' of having its own government minister.

Why restaurants?
I’m obsessed with food and drink and always have been. My parents used to own a catering company so think hospitality is in my blood.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Be prepared to give up your social life. Weekends, evenings, weddings, hen dos. Sometimes it’s sucks but you do get used to it and when you can make an event it makes it more special! 

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
That’s tough! Can I pick five?! I love Brat; Smoking Goat; The Seahorse; anything by Jose Pizarro; and Sabor. In terms of groups I think Dishoom, Soho House group, and The Pig, have nailed it. 

What motivates you?
Building something special with my husband Rick. It’s amazing to own your own business together. Also our daughter Pandora, I want to make sure we provide a future for her.

What keeps you up at night?
We’re running a pop up for the summer in Padstow called Prawn on the Farm and if it’s a windy night I’m praying the marquee is still standing.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Our wine supplier Tim who owns Sommeliers Choice has been an amazing mentor since the day we started. The people he’s introduced us to as well and the support he’s provided us has been unreal. His great friend Mitch Tonks has always been an idol of ours and his friendship and advice has been hugely valuable too. 

What time do you wake up?
7:30am. Our daughter wakes at 7am, but my husband Rick gets up and does her bottle so I can have an extra 30mins in bed - legend! 

Coffee or tea?
Coffee all day.

How often do you check your email?
Every five minutes.

How do you let off steam?
Lots of rose and lots of dancing! 

Favourite holiday destination?
Thailand or Sri Lanka. The food and the people are unreal. 

What boxset are you currently watching?
The Flight Attendant.

What was your dream job growing up?
Being a vet. I was obsessed with animal hospital and used to do pretend operations on my poor long suffering dog Lucy. 

Best business decision? 
Moving to Padstow. We packed our life into a van and moved to a place where we barley knew anyone to peruse a dream. And it paid off. 

Worst business decision?
We’ve definitely employed some questionable staff in the early days but you live and learn.  

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business? 
Work for someone else, learn everything you can, work hard and find a mentor. When times are tough believe in your vision, think outside the box and keep going.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
The industry being use Covid scapegoat. It’s not fair. We've had to close for eight months out of 12, adapt our businesses, have strict Covid procedures yet we are still so limited. When hospitality reopened last summer, cases did rise yet when they did after opening of other sectors we were the first to be ordered to close! I also think we are in desperate need of a hospitality minister and support the Seat at the Table campaign. 

Bio

Growing up in Taunton, Somerset, Toogood studied journalism at Cardiff university and originally started out working in press and marketing for the music industry. She opened Prawn on the Lawn with her husband Rick in London in 2013, and followed that up with a second site in Padstow in 2015. The pair subsequently opened another restaurant in Padstow in 2018 called Barnaby’s.

Related topics: Restaurant

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