Sandie Wilkie set up Nonna’s Gourmet Pizza Co in Montrose, offering a true taste of Italy to customers across Angus. Here, she shares with us the story behind their business.
Q. How and why did you start in business? I’ve always had a love of food and cooking and following in family tradition I wanted to be my own boss. I took time away from work to bring up my daughter and then care for my grandad and after he passed away I decided to follow my dream and open my own pizza place. I opened Nonna’s Gourmet Pizza, in honour of my gran who has passed on her love of food to the younger generations of our family.
Q. How did you get to where you are today? My gran was a big inspiration. She loved making family meals and she showed me how satisfying cooking can be. My dad owned a fish and chip shop so I’ve been around the industry my whole life. I started out waitressing for a restaurant and within weeks I was in the kitchen cooking. Our philosophy from the outset has been to create the best pizza experience possible. We use meats from local craft butchers, own-recipe Italian sausage and the very best Italian flour and tomatoes to create traditional pizzas with a unique twist. Pizza dough is made using a traditional Italian recipe that has won the world Pizza championships in Italy five times. We try to keep pizzas rustic, with the idea of traditional with a twist so we also offer quirky toppings such as macaroni cheese, pulled pork, black beans and chilli con carne or sweet pizzas that include Nutella, crushed digestives and toasted marshmallow.
Q. Who has helped you along the way? Setting up the business involved a host of other tasks in addition to pizza making. Business Gateway was really helpful, my adviser guided me through the start-up process and helped to sort out my marketing strategy. It took nine months for the unit to be fitted out properly so in that time I took advantage of the free workshops Business Gateway offer. My dad has been a big help too. Not just with his experience but he invested in the business with some of his inheritance money from my granddad.
Q. What was your biggest mistake? I should have spent more on advertising our location. We are a bit out of the way, next door to Busby’s nightclub but with our door on the other side and due to restrictions we aren’t allowed to have signage on the other side. This made it difficult for people to find us when we first opened and it’s still something we’re trying to highlight in all our social media and advertising.
Q. What is your greatest achievement to date? I think it would be the unique interiors and menu we’re offering. I really love the industrial look we’ve achieved with elements such as cheese grater lampshades and oil drums for tables. We’ve also got splashes of red, white and green to represent the Italian flag.
Q. What do you hope to achieve in the future? My long term goal is to have another Nonna’s Pizza in the Tayside region, possibly in Arbroath or Dundee.
Q. Do you want to recruit in the future? Definitely. Our plan is to employ at least one person before the end of the year.
Q. What is the hardest thing about running your own business? Switching off. I didn’t realise just how hard it is to stop thinking or worrying about the business, especially in the early months. Also, getting to grips with working very long, labour intensive hours.
Q. Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs? Plan for every cost as much as you can. There are always hidden costs but if you work out as much as possible in advance, they won’t sting quite as much. Also, access the support on offer from Business Gateway who can help you with so many of the issues you’ll be dealing with.
Find out how Business Gateway Angus can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01382 843 016.
Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753
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